Journal archives for May 2018

May 09, 2018

Nearing 500 species!

I recently purchased the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of the Southeastern North America, which includes Oklahoma. I'm sure the guide is not comprehensive of all the species we have in Oklahoma, but it is pretty thorough and there do not appear to be any gaping holes. I have been using it to identify some of the unidentified observations in our project. With a couple of those identifications and some recent observations we have now reached 495 species in the state!

The latest species addition is a Waterlily Borer Moth found by @greglasley in the southeastern corner of the state. This is a moth that probably doesn't make it much farther into the state than the eastern quarter or so.

I'm looking forward to hitting the 500 species mark and think we can do in the next month. I'm going to set up another mothing night in the next 2 weeks. Maybe that'll push us over the mark!

Posted on May 09, 2018 14:33 by zdufran zdufran | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 30, 2018

Salt Marsh Moth life cycle

First, I gotta say we blew past the 500 species count for Oklahoma. We're currently sitting at 540 species and I think we'll be getting into the upper 500s (approaching 600) by the end of the year. Wow!

Okay, so the Salt Marsh Moth... My family spent Memorial Day weekend at Lake Texoma. While the kiddos were playing on the beach my wife noticed a furry caterpillar crawling on the ground.

Salt Marsh Moth (Estigmene acrea) caterpillar

She called me over (I was off chasing dragonflies) and I scooped him up and entered him into iNaturalist and found out he was a Salt Marsh Moth (Estigmene acrea). My son came over to take a look and before I could say anything he was already petting the caterpillar. (I was refraining from touching it myself because I know that some caterpillars have stinging spines.) My son's hand was wet from playing in the water and when he pet the caterpillar some of the hair stuck to his fingers. I could tell then that they were totally harmless.

We took the caterpillar back to the house with us and put him in a little plastic habitat that I had with me (Thanks, OK BioBlitz!). Of course, I also had my moth guide with me, so I looked up what he likes to eat: apple trees, cabbage, corn, potatoes, tobacco, and other trees. I didn't have any of these nearby and didn't remember seeing any of these near the beach where we found the caterpillar. I googled and found that they will also eat clover. Ah ha! That's probably what he had been eating. We located some clover on our drive home and put a wad of that in his container in case he was hungry.

I didn't notice if he was actually eating any of the clover, but he was climbing around on it and under it, so at least it was giving him something to do and somewhere to feel safe. The next evening my daughter said she couldn't find the caterpillar in the habitat, so I took a look and found this!

Salt Marsh Moth (Estigmene acrea) cocoon

It appears we caught the caterpillar just a day before he was ready to build his cocoon. I think it's really cool how they incorporate their own hair into the cocoon. Now we'll have to see how long it takes for him to eclose...

Posted on May 30, 2018 17:25 by zdufran zdufran | 0 comments | Leave a comment