Friday, May 26, 2023

 Time to revive the blog, and I've found just the guy to get me back to it.  I've been, attracting moths last summer and again this spring.  A UV light at the window to the balcony and a white sheet over a shelf outside, and voila!  here they come.  Dozens of them, hundreds even.  I haven't finished processing all the photos from last year so don't know the count of species, but this year I process and upload to iNaturalist as soon as I get them downloaded.  This started in April and as of today I have 130 species, give or take a few due to errors or omissions in my recording

Last year I was lamenting that I didn't see a single Luna Moth, I usually see at least 2 or 3 per summer.  On May 22, 2023, at around 2:00 a.m., there he was, in all his splendid lime green with purple shoulder highlights, sitting ever so quietly on the windowsill.  I was nearly dancing across the balcony for joy.

The caterpillars have the same beautiful green colour with spots of red/magenta, and are as large as my thumb.  A number of years ago I was transplanting some trilliums and dug up a large cocoon.  I put the cocoon in a plant pot, covered it loosely with soil and leaves, put in a stick for "whatever it was" to crawl up on, kept it moist, had it on my desk,  and waited.  A couple of weeks later I was working at the computer when I heard a rustling sound, and was started when "this thing" ran around on the leaves and up the stick.  A luna!  I was going to see a luna emerge!  I took a series of photos (somewhere in my archives) as the wings enlarged and hardened.  It was a lovely female.  I build a cage out of a big cardboard box with some screens taped to it, and set that out on the balcony the next night.  Sure enough it attracted a male, and I was able to coax them out onto a log for photos (also buried in the archives).  After they warmed up they flew off into the trees.  One of my most memorable encounters with these beautiful insects.

Most people don't pay attention to moths, first thing that comes to mind are the annoying caterpillars that get into one's closet or pantry, or explode in population like the tent caterpillars and spongy moth caterpillars.  Being nocturnal also prevents most people from noticing them.  But if you're lucky enough to live like me in an area with lots of woods, away from neighbouring houses, there are plenty to see if you know how to draw them out.  There is an incredible variety of shapes, sizes, and colours, once you get interested in finding them it becomes an addiction.

A Variable Carpet Moth.  One of the moths with plain colours but a very interesting pattern.  I would love to knit a shawl or sweater with some of these patterns.  The caterpillar feeds on raspberry and prairie rose, both of which I have on my property.

A Night Wandering Dagger.  Another wonderful pattern that would be nice for a sweater.  Food plants include poplar, I have those around.

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