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Pandemis pyrusana “Pandemis Leafroller Moth” Tortricidae

Clinton, MT
July 25, 2015
Robert Niese

Pandemis leafrollers are common in the west and are considered a pest on commercial apple, cherry, plum, and pear trees. As larvae, they roll up the sides of leaves into a tube along the mid-vein creating a shelter from predators. Larvae born early in the summer will pupate inside these shelters, but late summer larvae overwinter under bark before emerging to feed on fresh buds in the early spring. In addition to feeding on commercial fruit trees, this species is also known to chow down on alder (Alnus), willow (Salix), birch (Betula), dogwood (Cornus), aspen (Populus tremuloides), currants (Ribes), roses (Rosa), and honeysuckle (Lonicera), all of which are very common here in western Montana.

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Thallophaga hyperborea Geometridae

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

This one was a really tough ID. We found this moth during our Slater Museum moth-lighting trip in Point Defiance for National Moth Week. We gave up attempting to identify it pretty early and had to call-in help from the experts at BugGuide. But even over at BugGuide, it was tentatively placed in three different genera before we settled on Thallophaga. Western Washington University is currently attempting to create a visual key to the Geometrids of the Pacific Northwest. As soon as it gets published, I’ll let you all know!

Malacosoma sp. “Tent Moth” Lasiocampidae, pupa on
Larix occidentalis “Western Larch” Pinaceae

Apgar Lookout Trail, Glacier National Park, MT
October 9, 2015
Robert Niese

The trails around Apgar are rife with Lasiocampidae pupae. They’ve spun their webby cocoons in every manner of tree, shrub, and man-made structure. Around Missoula, it wasn’t a very big year for tent moth caterpillars, but only a hundred miles away in Glacier National Park, Malacosoma numbers were significantly higher. These species go through regular boom and bust cycles and some years they become so abundant that entire forests can get defoliated. In my search of the literature, it appears that these moths overwinter as eggs, not as pupae. These pupating individuals certainly won’t survive the oncoming cold if that is indeed the case.

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.

Phaneta infimbriana “Silver-spotted Wormwood Moth” Tortricidae

Clinton, MT
July 25, 2015
Robert Niese

These dainty Tortricids are found throughout the Northwest between July and August. As larvae they feed primarily on plants in the family Asteraceae, particularly members of the genus Artemisia, which includes sagebrush, tarragon, and wormwoods. According to the Tortricidae foodplant database, the larvae of this species have only ever been recorded on Artemisia ludoviciana which is a very common weedy species in all our open, semi-dry habitats here in the PNW.

P1240396

Nematocampa resistaria “Horned Spanworm Moth” Geometridae, male

Clinton, MT
July 25, 2015
Robert Niese

This species of inch-worm moth is found throughout the US, except the southwest, and exhibits striking variation in morphology across its range. Males and females are also quite dimorphic. Males tend to be yellower and have dark patches at the base of their forewings while females almost always have a white ground color. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the morphology of this species are the horns of their caterpillars. Look for these crazy caterpillars in mixed hardwood/conifer forests in the early summer here in the PNW.

Leucoma salicis “Satin Moth” Lymantriidae (now Erebidae)

Clinton, MT
July 25, 2015
Robert Niese

 

Here’s another species from our National Moth Week event

with the Missoula Butterfly House. Satin Moths are native to the Palearctic, from the British Isles to Japan, but was introduced to the US in the 1920s. The moth was originally introduced to the Northeast, but specimens have been collected from the Pacific Northwest quite regularly in the past years, suggesting that a new population may have been introduced here recently. Their larvae eat the leaves of aspen, poplar, and willow until they’re fat enough to overwinter under the bark of their host trees. Adults are nearly pure white and hard to confuse with any other local moth species. And they’re so darn cute!

Caenurgina erechtea “Forage Looper” Erebidae

Clinton, MT
July 25, 2015
Robert Niese

Here’s another moth we spotted during our Mothlighting event for National Moth Week with the Missoula Butterfly House. This individual didn’t come to light, however. It came to our sugar lick! A sticky goopy paste of sugar, bananas, molasses, and beer can attract some unique nighttime visitors that you wouldn’t normally see at a light! This Forage Looper was far more interested in a sugary snack, than an insect orgy at a blacklight. And check out that camouflage! So neat!

Drepana arcuata “Arched Hooktip Moth” Drepanidae

Clinton, MT
July 25, 2015
Robert Niese

 

Here’s another moth we spotted during our Mothlighting event for

National Moth Week with the Missoula Butterfly House. These moths are positively unmistakable! In our area there are no other moths that pull-off the “I’m a dead leaf” look quite as well as the Hooktips. The PNW is home to two species of Hooktip moths – D. arcuata and D. bilineata (which, as its name suggests, has two lines instead of one). As larva, Hooktip moths feed on the leaves of Alder and Birch trees where they hide inside folded leaves.

Malacosoma californica “Western Tent Caterpillar Moth” Lasiocampidae

Clinton, MT
July 25, 2015
Robert Niese

Tent caterpillar moths were some of our most abundant visitors during our Mothlighting event for National Moth Week with the Missoula Butterfly House. They are positively adorable as adults, wouldn’t you agree? In our area, we tend to have mostly Western Tent Caterpillars, but we do also get Forest Tent Caterpillars (M. disstria). Caterpillars of M. disstria tend to have broader blue dorsal bands, keyhole-shaped white dorsal spots, and whiter tufts of lateral hairs than M. californica, which, in our area, tend to have more yellow than blue

(however, farther east they tend to lack yellow entirely)

and tend to have dash-shaped white dorsal spots. Adults are far more difficult to distinguish, but in general, M. californica tends to have two lighter-colored lateral bands on its forewings in addition to dark bands, while M disstria tends to lack these bands and only has dark bands. But from the underside, they all just look like teddy bears.