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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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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!

Lebia viridis (cyanipennis) “Western Colorful Foliage Beetle” Carabidae

Clinton, MT
July 25, 2015
Robert Niese

This awesome carnivorous beetle joined us at the sheets during our Mothlighting event for National Moth Week with the Missoula Butterfly House. These colorful Carabids didn’t come to the light looking for sex though. They were on the hunt! This guy was speedily chasing after gnats and other small insects that we had attracted to our lights. In my opinion, watching these tiny predators was just as exciting as any lion hunt in Africa!

Mothlighting for National Moth Week with the Missoula Butterfly House

Clinton, MT
July 25, 2015
Robert Niese

July is a glorious time here in Montana. Not only do the insects come out in massive numbers, but it’s also the best time for fishing, star-gazing, botanizing, and huckleberry hunting. Next time you’re in Montana for July, be sure to drop me a line! I’d love to show off all the awesome Nature this region has to offer!

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.