Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mothly Reminders

Wavy-lined emerald moth (c) John Ashley
Wavy-lined emerald moth (Synchlora aerata)

These two moth photos are meant as a dual reminder for you.

First, National Moth Week 2013 begins tomorrow (Friday). Hundreds of folks just like you from around the world will be out at night with lighted sheets, attracting moths and photographing them in a massive "Citizen Scientist" effort to expand what we know about this often ignored group of animals. It can be as simple as leaving your porch light on after dark and taking pictures of what shows up. Or it can involve sugary baits and many lights of different wavelengths. It's all up to you.

'Syngrapha orophila' moth (c) John Ashley
Syngrapha orophila moth
Second, the handsome specimen (right) is Syngrapha orophila, a moth without a common name. It is a fairly uncommon moth, living in open coniferous forests from northern British Columbia down to Wyoming and southern Oregon. The caterpillars of this moth feed exclusively on what we in Montana call huckleberry plants (Vaccinium spp.). But relax, there are 16 different blueberry species in this genus, and the caterpillars feed on the leaves, not the sweet berries.

Which brings me to the second reminder. Wild huckleberries are now ripe in low and mid elevations. Photograph moths at night, pick huckleberries by day - could it get any better?