Catoptria latiradiella “Two-banded Catoptria” Crambidae

Clinton, MT
July 25, 2015
Robert Niese

This small species of Crambid moth is restricted to boreal and montane forests in North America. Its larvae are believe to feed exclusively on mosses. As adults, these moths are active both in the day and at night and are regularly seen at lights in July and August.

Petrophila confusalis Crambidae

Missoula, MT
July 21, 2015
Robert Niese

These adorable moths are absolutely fascinating! They often rest with their hindwings partially visible, displaying these prominent black spots. It’s likely that these patterns look like jumping spiders to potential predators or parasites (i.e. wasps). Check out this awesome video of the moth moving its wings to make its eyespots look extra scary, and this cool video of a different species chasing a male jumping spider like it’s a potential mate. In addition to this cool ability to mimic its predators, these moths also lay their eggs underwater! Females actually dive down to the bottom of fast-flowing streams to lay their eggs on algae-ridden rocks in riffles and rapids. During these dives, their abdomens get encased in a bubble of air, providing them with oxygen just like a scuba diver! The larvae then hatch and consume the diatoms and algae growing on the stream-bottom.

We must have had six of these moths at our lights last night! Happy National Moth Week!

Anania hortulata “Small Magpie” Crambidae

Tacoma, WA
July 8, 2013
Robert Niese

The Small Magpie is an adorable moth that was accidentally introduced from Europe. Its larvae feed on Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) and many members of the mint family.

Happy National Moth Week!

Scoparia basalis “Many-spotted Scoparia” Crambidae

Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, WA
July 22, 2013
Robert Niese

Our night of mothlighting in Point Defiance Park was chock-full of these adorable little (1cm!) Crambids. Definitely our most abundant moth of the evening! Caterpillars of Scoparia moths are poorly described, but some scientists think they might live in and feed on mosses before reaching adulthood. This might make sense considering that the forests in Point Defiance Park are dripping with mosses!

Happy National Moth Week!