01 July 2010

"Hey Now,..."

"... all you sinners. Put your lights on. Put your lights on." - Carlos Santana

I tend to leave the porch light on in the evenings. Then check the lights and the adjacent patio walls for cool insects, more specifically for the want of interesting moths, before heading to bed.

Often rain systems and leading edges of hurricane-influenced meteorological events can be the facilitator of interesting and less than common moths.

Last night, several interesting insects, but nothing too out of the ordinary...yet.
However, sphinx moth (Family Sphigidae) species are always attention-getting due to size, patterns, behavior, and other characteristics.

Waved Sphinx moth (Ceratomia undulosa)

C. undulosa is "common east of the Rockies, its larvae feeding on ash and other members of the olive family." (Eaton, R. and Kaufman K., Field Guide to Insects of North America, pg. 242, 2007)
We certainly have ash trees on the property and around this neighborhood.

My father had actually reported a Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) eating a large moth outside the dining room window back on 27 April 2009. Upon hearing that, Heidi and I searched for and found the moth's wings the following day.

'Twas a Waved Sphinx, or so we believed.
However, the photos we took of the faded, wet wings weren't conclusive enough for one of the few state record keepers. That's understandable, there are a few other species that theoretically could have once sported those faded dilapidated wings.

McLennan County, Texas is in the range of this species. However, in the world of Lepidoptera, scores of species are under-reported. Not too many folks in the greater-Waco, TX area looking for and kicking up moths and butterflies, I suppose.

These photos ought to do.

Tomorrow morning we are heading out to the trans-Pecos region of far-west Texas. This portion of the Chihuahuan Desert is were I worked, completed grad school requirements, and otherwise lived for ~ 4 years or so.

I was not the avid amateur moth and butterfly hunter back then as I am now. I spent much of my time working on Montezuma Quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae) and kicking rocks in the Davis Mountains.

I look forward to returning with a watchful eye toward leps. It brings a newness to a region I otherwise know.

Hopefully we'll have a porch light.

1 comment:

  1. 'tis a pleasant surprise to see a Waved Sphinx in the land of the living! Now that we've got photos, I wish the mocker happy thrashings... there are babies to feed!