Tuesday 22 October 2013

A Late Moth and Butterfly record

I haven’t had much in my light trap for sometime but had a very nice looking moth last night which is a first for my Calgary backyard.  I believe it’s a Thaxter's Pinion Moth (Lithophane thaxteri).   In addition to this, last Friday, I decided to walk up Sulphur Mountain for some exercise and in search of bird and mammal photographic opportunities.  I wasn’t expecting to see any butterflies but just below the summit ridge walkway that leads to the Cosmic Ray Station, I was surprised to find a Milbert's Tortoiseshell flying around the rocks.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a macro lens with me so had to take the attached with my 400mm lens. 

It’s always nice to get a few October records and the new moth perhaps justifies keeping the light trap out for a little longer...



Wednesday 25 September 2013

End of the mothing year?

I haven’t blogged for a few weeks but the moth numbers have been dropping steadily until 2 days ago when I had my first empty light trap since the start of summer.  I do have some unidentified species and will continue to put up an occasional post as I identify them.

One new species for me, recorded on the 14th Sept, was an Ashen Brindle moth (Lithomoia germana).  This is one of the moths that raises its abdomen at rest.  It’s one of the Cuculliinae  moths which typically turn up at this time of year.  I’ve have also had several of what I believe to be Pallid Rustics (Hydraecia pallescens) and a few Subflava Sedge Borer Moths (Capsula subflava).  The latter Borer moth uses bulrushes, cattails, grasses and rushes as host plants.



Friday 6 September 2013

No light trap but a bait trap surprise

This is my first blog for a week and I have been getting in the range of 11 to 19 species each night but until last night only one new macro moth for the year (actually, I do have a couple of moths to identify so that statement may not be entirely accurate). Because the weather forecast for Thursday night looked a little grim I didn’t put the light trap out but decided to leave the bait trap out as it is afforded some rain protection by the tree that it hangs under.  The bait trap and the moths were a little damp in the morning but there were 4 new macro moth species for the year and no less than 6 Underwing moths of 3 species.  If I lived in a rural area (or had a very large bait trap?) this might seem like a small number of Underwings but this is definitely the largest number I have had in my trap at any one time.  It almost seemed that the rain and cooler temperatures had brought them out... 

Unfortunately, it looks wet again tonight so I will have to rely on the bait trap again.  The 4 new bait trap species for the year were:

White Underwing (Catocala relicta)
Kidney-spotted Rustic (Helotropha reniformis)
Garden Cutworm Moth (Fishia discors)
Olive Green Cutworm (Dargida procincta)

Pale Enargia (Enargia decolor) – In the light trap over several nights. The Alfalfa Looper (Autographa californica) was in the light trap a few nights ago. This image was created using 5 photographs with different focus points.  In general the Loopers (Plusiinae) lend themselves quite well to focus stacking.

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Thursday 29 August 2013

Still getting some good moths

I’ve had 4 new species for the year over the last 2 nights.  2 new species each night.  last night there was 62 moths of 22 species in my backyard light trap.  The four new species for the year were:

Chevron Moth (Eulithis testata)
Celery Looper (Anagrapha falcifera)
Subflava Sedge Borer Moth (Capsula subflava)
Cow Parsnip Borer Moth (Papaipema harrisi)

I tend not to photograph too many micro moths but I did photograph one this morning, a Sod Webworm Moth (Pediasia trisecta).  This image was created using focus stacking and is the result of 7 combined images.



Tuesday 27 August 2013

Backyard mothing again

I did photograph some interesting moths just north of the Waterton Lakes National Park over the weekend which I will be posting later in the week.  I also photographed a Glover’s Silkmoth caterpillar (probably a late or final instar) that was discovered at the excellent “Waterton River Suites B&B” where we were staying.  It’s surprising what gets noticed when people find out that you are interested in moths!

Anyway, more on that later.  Last night there were 40 macro moths of 15 species in the light trap which included 2 new species for the year, a Maple Spanworm (Ennomos magnaria) and a Cloaked Peasant (Brachylomia populi).


Thursday 22 August 2013

A fairly slow August

Not that much to report.  Thankfully, my light trap has been behaving since I was forced to re-splice some frayed wires.  There have only been 2 new moths for year since my last blog entry, an Obelisk Dart (Euxoa obeliscoides) and a Collard Dart (Agnorisma bugrai).  Unfortunately, no photograph on the Obelisk Dart.  I’m including yet another image of a Semirelict Underwing Moth (Catocala semirelicta), which was in the trap yesterday, as this one shows very pronounced black bars on the forewings.  I also had another Briseis Underwing (Catocala briseis) in the trap yesterday but the bait trap was completely empty this morning.  Perhaps time I replaced the bait?

I’m staying just outside the Waterton Lakes National Park area for the next few days so hopefully I will have some interesting moths to report on when I get back.  The Vivid Dancer (Argia vivida) Damselfly photograph was taken in Banff National Park.





Monday 19 August 2013

A few more August moths

With the somewhat unpredictable overnight weather conditions it has been a little quieter with regards to moth numbers for August.  Having said that it has been picking up a bit over the last couple of days and I’m getting at least one or two Underwings in the bait trap each night now.  Last night there were 68 species of 22 macro moths in my backyard bait and light traps.  This number doesn’t include one or two Euxoa species which I haven’t (and may not be able to) identified.  The new species for the last few days are as follows:

Hydriomena Furcata (Hydriomena furcata)
American Ear Moth (Amphipoea americana)
Mouse Moth (Amphipyra tragopoginis)
Brown Arches Moth (Lacinipolia stricta)
Venerable Dart (Dusky Cutworm) (Agrotis venerabilis)
Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)

I’ve included another Semirelict Underwing Moth (Catocala semirelicta) photograph as this has some slightly different markings.



Thursday 15 August 2013

More moths at last! Blog entry for the 14th August.

The unpredictable weather has meant that I haven’t been having a lot of success with the light trap over the last week.  Having said that, I was discouraged by fairly dire overnight weather predictions, that did not materialize, on at least one occasion.  However, Tuesday was a good moth night with 46 moths of 18 species.  5 were new for the year and 1 of the 5 was a new species. The new species is, I believe, a Once-married Underwing Moth (Catocala unijuga).  While it is hard to be 100% certain, the wide black bands on the hindwing which touch the inner margin of the wing and the dark hairs in the basal area of the hindwings point towards unijuga rather than meskei or semirelicta.  The forewings are lighter than briseus and lack the characteristic patch of brown scales.  The other new species were:

Pink-bordered Yellow (Sicya macularia)
Even-lined Sallow (Ipimorpha pleonectusa)
Divergent Dart (Euxoa divergens)
Western brown dart (Euxoa basalis)


Thursday 8 August 2013

Not a great start to August…

Mainly due to the wet weather there hasn’t been a great deal for me to post since last Friday.  In addition to fairly low numbers, for the time of year, a high percentage of moths in the trap are quite worn so not great subjects for photography.  Oligia rampartensis is probably one of the most colourful Noctuid moths in Alberta but sadly this specimen did have some damage.  The weather for tonight looks decidedly wet again Sad smile. What happened to the summer?Storm cloud

The approximate numbers of macro moths over the last few days are as follows.  I didn’t put the trap out last night or on the 5th August.

Sat 3rd August – 59 moths of 16 species.  No new species for the year.
Sunday 4th August – 83 moths of 18 species.  1 new moth for the year, Oligia rampartensis.
Tuesday 6th August – 72 moths of 13 species.  1 new moth for the year, Two-spot Dart (Protolampra rufipectus).

I’ve included a Dragonfly and Damselfly photograph.  The Dragonfly was taken last Friday in the Banff, Cave and Basin area.  The Damselfly was taken yesterday in my backyard during a short period of sunshine.




Friday 2 August 2013

A good moth night

In spite of some rain during the night and early morning it was a good night for backyard moths.  I counted 103 macro moths of 30 species in the light trap.  6 of them were new for the year and included a White-streaked Looper (Plusia venusta) which I have only recorded once before in August 2010.  A very nice looking Plusiinae.  The 6 also included my second Underwing of the year, a Semirelict Underwing Moth (Catocala semirelicta), which found it’s way into my bait trap.  I never get great numbers of Underwings, probably a consequence of the area I live in, so I’m always pleased to see them.  The new species for the year were as follows:

Dark-spotted Looper (Diachrysia aereoides)
Tufted Thyatirid (Pseudothyatira cymatophoroides)
Semirelict Underwing Moth (Catocala semirelicta)
White-streaked Looper (Plusia venusta)
Great Gray Dart (Great Brochade) (Eurois occulta)
Ruby Dart (Xestia oblata)


Thursday 1 August 2013

Blog entries for the 27th July to 1st August

Well, cooler overnight temperatures and wetter conditions have reduced the moth numbers for a few nights but here’s a summary of the numbers and species in the light and bait traps.  I didn’t put the light trap out on the 28th and only the bait trap was out on the 30th.  Also, these numbers do not include a few unidentified moths or micro moths.

27th July – 24 moths of 13 species.  3 were new for for the year :
Large Looper Moth (Broken-banded Y) (Autographa ampla)
Bertha Armyworm (Mamestra configurata)
Black Army Cutworm (Actebia fennica) – male

29th July – 45 moths 11 species.

30th July – 9 moths of 3 species.

31st July – 60 moths 18 species.

1st August - 96 moths of 24 species.  2 new species for the year:
Zenophleps alpinata
Euxoa Comosa

As can be seen the moth numbers are picking up again.  However, I’m getting quite a number of worn moths so they are not always good photographic subjects. It’s also the time of the year when I get those tricky Euxoa species of moth.  Often with these the only way to be certain of an identification is by dissection so some will remain unidentified.

Here are some of the new species and what I believe is a Red-spot Polia (Lacinipolia davena).  Certainly, a nice looking moth.  The Black Army Cutworm (Actebia fennica) can be identified as a male because of the broad pale border along the posterior edge of the forewing.  This is lacking in the female Actebia fennica.


Friday 26 July 2013

A slower moth night

I retrieved the light trap at 10pm for an hour while an impressive storm moved around the area.  The rain appeared to reduce the moth numbers, as compared to the previous night, although, there were still 92 moths of 21 species.  There was 1 new Noctuid but I haven’t identified it yet.  I did manage to photograph a  Northwestern Phoenix Moth (Eulithis xylina).  This is a moth that never seems to settle for more than a few seconds but for once it stayed long enough for me to try some some focus stacking with 3 images.  I think the result is ok?  As it is a slow photograph day I though I would add a recent River Otter picture taken in Vancouver while I was on vacation.