Archive for May, 2011

Yellow-collared Scape Moth

May 16, 2011

Yellow collared scape moth on goldenrod

A day-flying moth is the yellow collared scape moth, with a wingspan between 2 and 2 ¼”. Its wings are bluish black or bluish brown. The abdomen is blue with some iridescent shades. The name refers to the bright yellow or orange collar, very characteristic of this moth; although there are a couple of unrelated moths with a remarkably similar pattern.

Virginia Ctenucha

Grapeleaf skeletonizer

These are: Virginia ctenucha (left), larger and with an iridescent blue abdomen and the grapeleaf skeletonizer (right), smaller and with a fanned tail.

Male yellow collared scape moth on Eupatorium, snake root

Yellow collared scape moths are frequently found on flowers of Eupatorium. These plants are toxic to most animals. However these moths have developed a tolerance against the toxins. Males feed on these plants and acquire and store the toxins. Later they transfer them to the females as a mating gift. In turn females use the toxins to protect their eggs against predators.

Habitat. Meadows, open fields.

Season. Most common in late summer and fall, from July to October. It can be seen earlier and later, especially in the South.

Flowers. goldenrods, many members of the aster family, especially Eupatorium.

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Beginners Guide to Pollinators and Other Flower Visitors

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Hairstreak Butterflies

May 5, 2011

Red banded hairstreak on goldenrod

Hairstreaks are so called for the hair-like tails on the hind wings. They also have eyespots or markings on the hind wings. These two things combined can easily lead a predator to think that this part is the head and to take a bite off the wrong end, allowing the butterfly to escape, losing no more than a piece of wing. They are pretty little butterflies that can be seen flitting about over meadows, old fields, near forests most of the warm part of the year. There are many species, some are represented only in the east or only in the west of the United States.

Banded hairstreak on common milkweed

They are fairly small, gray, going from bluish to tan, with some colored pattern. The red banded hairstreak, a common species in eastern United States, has a jagged red band with a border of a black and a white line on the underside of the wings. The banded hairstreak has variable dark and white markings on the underside of the wings; two orange spots on the hind wings and a metallic blue large spot. It is common in the east but it is also found in some western states.

Coral hairstreak on butterfly weed

This and the coral hairstreak are often found on butterfly weed and other milkweed flowers, Asclepias.
The coral hairstreak has a row of coral dots on the underside of the back wing and rows of smaller dark dots on front and back wings. It is unusual among hairstreaks in that it doesn’t have tails. Seen throughout the United States.

Habitat. Edges of woodlands, sandy areas, old fields.

Season. Early spring to fall. In southern states they can be seen throughout the year.

Flowers. Many species of the aster family. Goldenrod is a favorite of some hairstreaks. Others are fond of milkweeds, butterfly weed.

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Beginners Guide to Pollinators and Other Flower Visitors