miércoles, 31 de enero de 2024

My Earliest Documented Observations

概括:1968 年 9 月至 1969 年 11 月,我在美國空軍服役期間駐紮在台灣台北。1969 年夏天,我拍攝了許多蝴蝶和其他動植物的照片。 我最近才開始掃描所有這些舊幻燈片。 可以在此連結中找到觀察結果。

简介: 1968 年 9 月至 1969 年 11 月,我在美国空军服役期间驻扎在台湾台北。1969 年夏天,我拍摄了许多蝴蝶和其他动植物的照片。 我最近才开始扫描所有这些旧幻灯片。 可以在此链接中找到观察结果。


Quick Link: My Observations in Taiwan, 1969

In my effort to upload all my observations of plants and animals, time is not linear...or at least the work to accomplish that task is non-linear. As I scan old slides and upload the records to iNaturalist, I tend to jump around a bit. Hanging over this huge task like a dark cloud have been some of my oldest images of nature. But the clouds are parting and I will soon be offering a set of observations from the year 1969 which will constitute the earliest large batch of usable iNat observations I have available. Here's a bit of the back story:

My training as an ecologist in college was interrupted by a four-year stint in the U.S. Air Force from 1967 to 1971. Long story short, the USAF sent me to a duty station in Taiwan for 15 months in 1968-1969. My interest in nature, dating from childhood, was not diminished during that visit. Quite the contrary. I arrived in Taipei, Taiwan, on/about September 1, 1968. After settling into my duties there, I acquired my first SLR camera, a trusty Minolta SRT 101. I began documenting events around me but by that time it was getting into the winter months. Even in Taipei's subtropical climate, the winter could be cool. I recall seeing snow, at least momentarily, on top of Chihsing (QiXing) Shan, Seven Star Mountain, on the northern outskirts of Taipei that winter. I didn't really get out to explore Nature in northern Taiwan until the following Spring, but thereafter, for the last six months of my stay, I made several forays to the suburbs and countryside and managed to document a modest amount of natural objects.

Those slides from my Taiwan visit have languished in boxes and notebooks for decades. I had previously identified several of the butterflies I'd photographed, but had otherwise done nothing with the slides. Happily most of the rolls of slides have dates stamped on them so that I can generally date the observation to within a month or so--not ideal but for records going back that far, I'll take it. As well, my outdoor destinations were few in number. Scenery slides interspersed with my images of plants and animals allow me to geolocate almost all of the slides fairly closely, down to "county" level or so and most times much more precisely.

The batch of observations I will upload from Taiwan can be found at this link. As I post this journal entry, the link will only have two single butterfly observations which I'd previously scanned and uploaded. But the collection will soon burgeon to some 50+ observations of various fauna and flora. For the record, below are some brief notes about my main destinations and an overview of my efforts.

-- I began seriously trying to document butterflies and other insects in about May 1969 with a majority of the observations made in June 1969. Most of my other records from Taiwan are incidental encounters with other taxa during those efforts.

-- I was friends with a married (USAF) couple who rented an apartment in a northern suburb of Taipei starting in Winter 1968-69. I visited them frequently and took the opportunity the next Spring and Summer to hike locally in that area to enjoy some Nature. I can't recall the specific subdivision they were in, and the area has built up considerably since then. Thus, I am unable to pin-point the neighborhood on Google Earth, but I will put a somewhat broad circle of uncertainty on those observations and have some confidence in the placement.

-- The USAF had leased a recreational beach site for U.S. personnel on the northern coast of Taiwan called "McCauley Beach". It was about 2 miles west of the Yehliu GeoPark. I had no car, but I could access the beach via a USAF shuttle or via a couple of rural (Taiwanese) bus routes. I visited the beach two or three times from June to August 1969 and have many slides from those visits.

-- My last Nature observations in Taiwan date from early October 1969. Typhoon Emily had roared across Taiwan in September 1969 with devestating effects and just a few weeks later Typhoon Flossie brought historical flooding rains to the island. After Emily's passage, I had gone to visit my friends in Taipei (above) on a long weekend break but the rains from Flossie began and we got flooded into their two-story apartment for several days. I photographed a few creatures that floated by or took refuge on the apartment walls and fence during the flooding.

-- After the floods of Flossie receded, I just made it back to my duty station in time to pack up and get ready to return to the U.S. I was back home in SoCal on leave in November 1969.

I don't remember enough of my Chinese Mandarin to properly construct even one intelligible sentence but with the aid of Google Translate, I'm going to insert a brief introduction to these efforts to alert some local iNaturalists in the region. That brief intro will appear in both traditional and simplified characters. I hope it translates well!

Publicado el miércoles, 31 de enero de 2024 a las 03:33 PM por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

domingo, 28 de enero de 2024

Working Through Old Slides and Field Notes

It may be apparent from my recent uploads that I was very busy in the field during the period 1978 to 1980 (and beyond). While a large portion of those records are from my personal birding travels and field research, there was another major source of observations that I accumulated. At the time I was working for a private environmental consulting firm as a wildlife biologist. They sent me to do field work at numerous sites scattered across Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, and as far as Florida and Illinois. I have fair documentation of all of those activities, often with daily bird lists, etc. But at times I wrote field notes with only generalized itineraries, dates, and locations. I have numbers of field checklists which pinpoint some of those efforts. At other times, determining dates and places involves some extrapolation and interpolation.

On most of those efforts I took quite a few habitat images to document the project sites, and no small number of pictures of plants and animals on now-fading Ektachrome slide film. Some, but not all, of the slide rolls had date stamps which, aided by my work calendars and field journals, help associate images with dates and locations. But perhaps 1/3 of the slide rolls lack date stamps. Luckily I had gone through all of those slides many years ago and at least marked a project name or general location (e.g., "Black Mesa, AZ") on the slide boxes. Later on, I organized all the slides in slide sheets and carried over the location information onto those sheets.

My notes and documentation are far from perfect but they have allowed me to properly locate and date the vast majority of the images. For those images with solid dates and locations, the process of scanning the slides and uploading images to iNaturalist is straightforward. Where the slides have little/no associated information and/or my field notes are more generalized, I have been very cautious about assigning places and dates. As a rule, I am only assigning dates and locations to images which I can date to within one week (e.g. +/- 2 or 3 days max) and place at no coarser than a county-level occurrence. For general observations (i.e. nothing rare or out of the ordinary), I hope this is sufficient for the iNat database. And happily, I would estimate that probably 90% of my images, particularly from my college years in the early 1970s up to the digital era starting in the early 2000's, are quite precise on dates and locations. I am still disappointed on occasion when I have some nice images from a project site that lack any notes and for which my memory fails me. Those will never see the light of iNaturalist.

So how many old slides am I working through? I'd have a hard time pinning the actual number down. I recently made a back-of-the-envelope calculation that I probably have something on the order of 10K to 15K slides. Of course, many of those are scenery shots, pictures of family and friends, etc. I would make a guess that perhaps at most 1/4 to 1/3 of all those slides include usable images of some organism. So the raw arithmetic would tell me that I will have eventually scanned anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 images. A quick check of "My Observations" from the dawn of time up through December 31, 2002, so far indicates that I have already uploaded about 1,250 observations of about 900 species (but not necessarily all from slide film). And many of those have multiple images. Looking at the bookcase of binders with all my slides, I'm sure I'm nowhere near half-way done with the task, so the higher estimate of the eventual collection of images may be closer to the final total.

Sorry, gotta go. I have some slides to scan.

Publicado el domingo, 28 de enero de 2024 a las 03:46 PM por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

jueves, 25 de enero de 2024

Take Good Notes!

It is said that we learn more from our failures than our successes.

I have been a taker of detailed field notes in journals ever since the mid-1970s when the habit was ingrained in me during several Field Ecology classes at the University of California at Irvine. (My eternal gratitude and thanks to Profs. Dick MacMillen, Pete Atsatt, and Phil Rundell). As an avid "Lister" in my birdwatching endeavors, I have also kept relatively detailed records nearly everywhere I've traveled, locally, statewide, out-of-state, and internationally. My 80+ volumes of field journals are also supplemented with field checklists, small spiral notebooks, and my yearly/monthly/weekly "Minders" calendars that I have kept since the 1970s for meetings, appointments, travel notes, important dates, etc. As I slog through the current task of scanning thousands of old slides and uploading usable images to iNaturalist, I have benefitted greatly from all these records of my travels. I really couldn't accomplish these additions to the iNaturalist database without those supporting records.

That's the success of my note-taking system. But I'm not here to dwell on that. It has been a failure of those normally reliable habits that is driving me crazy at the moment and prompting me to post this preachy journal entry. The complicated documentation of this failure of note-taking is on display in this observation of a Glossy Snake, photographed somewhere at some point in 1979:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/197512935

The short version of the story is that I have great images of the Glossy Snake but virtually no details in my journals about when/where the animal was photographed. The slides have an erroneous (late) date stamp of "Jan 80". They were probably developed from a roll of film that languished in a camera for months. I was pretty sure the observation was a first-hand record; I have Glossy Snake checked off for my Life List on several of my old Peterson Field Guides. But as of this writing, I'm still struggling with trying to sleuth out when/where the animal was documented. The story will continue in the comments and details of the above observation. But the bottom line is:

TAKE GOOD FIELD NOTES!

Don't rely entirely on the modern conveniences of date-time stamps and GPS locations for digital images. Sometimes those are wrong, so it is always smart to have back-up hard copy notes.

This is probably a very difficult, even baffling "ask" of younger generations who are completely comfortable with the aforesaid technology. But forewarned is forearmed. Just sayin' ...

Publicado el jueves, 25 de enero de 2024 a las 06:31 PM por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

jueves, 04 de enero de 2024

Book Review: Moths and Mothing, Featuring The Moths of the Devils River by David G. Barker

Cover: An Introduction to Moths and Mothing, Featuring The Moths of the Devils River

David G. Barker (@ptexis) has just published a gorgeous volume entitled, "An Introduction to Moths and Mothing, Featuring The Moths of the Devils River" (VPI Library, 2023**). I met Dave Barker for the first time several years ago during an iNaturalist bioblitz at Lake Amistad National Recreation Area, not far the Barkers' getaway home on the Devils River in southwest Texas. Based on mutual interests, we immediately struck up a friendship from which I have benefitted disproportionately.

Barker's lifelong interest in snakes, and in particular his fascination with Gray-banded Kingsnakes, lead him to the Devils River many years ago and it was there that an interest in moths was sparked in 2016. Dave is a keen researcher with an eye for detail and that is evidenced in his research on moths and his photographic skills.

An Introduction to Moths and Mothing (IMM) is a slick, well-structured volume with useful information for moth-ers and nature enthusiasts at all levels of interest. Barker's writing style is down-to-earth, matter-of-fact, and very readable. He uses technical terms with facility but is quick to define each for the general reader. The volume has five introductory chapters describing, in order, "All about Moths", "The Basics of Mothing", "Names and Numbers of Moths", "Identifying Moths", and "Photographing Moths". Dave includes a 9-page ecological introduction to the Devils River, one of the most enticing, important, and biologically fascinating watersheds of Texas. These chapters, each of which is well-illustrated with nicely selected images, are packed with invaluable nuggets, but they are, for me, just a tasty appetizer leading to the main moth entrée.

Just over half of IMM is taken up by Dave's beautifully photographed moths from the Devils River. This is eye candy of a caloric richness that will delight the senses of even the most dispassionate nature observer. The 106 plates display 558 species of moths which Dave documented in just a five-year span. Here Dave's photographic skills are on full display. The generously oversized and well-cropped images show moths in natural poses--not uncommonly with multiple images of variable species. Each image is labeled with the scientific name and the species' "Hodges Number" (i.e., from the Checklist of Lepidoptera of North American). The species are displayed in taxonomic order by Hodges Numbers. There is no biased "selection" of species here; the micros and the macros, the gaudy and the not-so-gaudy are all illustrated. I applaud Dave for this comprehensive presentation. Certainly there will be many more moths to be discovered and documented in this--and every--corner of Texas, but Barker has offered a gorgeous guide to the vast majority of what is known from the region. Importantly, the diverse set of species included by Barker harbors many widespread Texas taxa along with a mouth-watering display of the very special moth fauna which characterizes Southwest Texas.

There are essentially no identification notes accompanying the images but this is explicitly a "photographic guide" to the species and it serves that purpose well. The reader can thereafter consult any of our commonly used resources such as iNaturalist, Moth Photographers' Group, and BugGuide, or the recent Leckie & Beadle field guide (Southeastern U.S., Peterson Field Guide series, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) for ID help. Moreover, because of the geographic focus of IMM, this contribution offers a critical supplement for moth-ers in a larger swath of Texas to what is found in the latter field guide.

The volume concludes with a set of appendices covering a species list, useful references, and a few other tidbits. Perhaps my only minor disappointment with IMM is its lack of an alphabetic index to the moth species included; Appendix 1 "indexes" all the species, but it is not so much an index as just a list of the species, plate by plate, in Hodges order. Appendix 1 contains common names of those moths for which such names are in regular use.

Did I mention Barker's photographic skills? These are emphatically on display in a set of distractingly beautiful "moth pattern images" on interleaves and facing pages separating chapters. Dave has artfully created the several pages by carefully crafting kaleidoscopic compositions of repeated, small, cropped bits of moth wings. There are 15 such pages scattered from cover to cover and--Spoiler Alert--the identities of the moths from which he created the art are listed in Appendix 3. I challenge the reader to take the "quiz" and try to recognize and name the moth contributing to each page before consulting the list of species!

Simply put, this is a must-have volume for anyone interested in Texas moths and, with its informative introductory chapters, it will have a much wider utility for nature lovers in broader regions.

**The volume can be ordered online at: https://vpi.com/galleries/moths-2024.

Disclosure: I was the happy recipient of an early pre-distribution copy of this volume. I thank Dave Barker for that kindness.

Publicado el jueves, 04 de enero de 2024 a las 04:19 PM por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

sábado, 23 de diciembre de 2023

A Lichen Moth By Any Other Name

Resumen: La polilla del liquen Nyctochroa basiplaga (Erebidae: Arctiinae: Lithosiini) se encuentra desde México hasta Costa Rica. Al parecer ha sido catalogado, descrito e ilustrado con varios nombres diferentes desde su primer descubrimiento en el siglo XIX. Si todos estos se refieren a la misma polilla, puede haber hasta cinco nombres de especies diferentes asociados con la misma polilla. Aquí profundizo en la compleja historia de esta polilla. Se necesita una revisión taxonómica formal de todos estos taxones.

Take a close look at this image of a lichen moth from Oaxaca, Mexico, photographed by @juanmaguey in October 2019:

(full-size image:) https://inaturalist-open-data.s3.amazonaws.com/photos/181343415/original.jpeg
and then read on, if you dare:

In the course of researching the lichen moth genus Eudesmia, I got sidetracked for the past few days looking up old descriptions of some of the unknown and unrecognized lichen moth species (Erebidae: Arctiinae: Lithosiini) in various checklists. The lists on the FUNET site are particularly useful (Thank You, Markku Savela! See links at bottom of post). Not uncommonly, species described by authors in the 19th Century have bounced around in various genera over the succeeding 150 or so years, and lepidopterists of that era frequently named new species without a comprehensive review of previous taxa, creating numerous synonyms which needed to be sorted out later by subsequent generations of researchers. Such seems to be the case of a lichen moth originally named Nyctochroa basiplaga by Felder & Felder in 1874. That’s the earliest name I can find for a moth that seems to have been named and described anew over and over again. In their massive volumes documenting the “Voyage of the Frigate Novara”, Felder & Felder illustrated this species from Mexico (Vol. 2, pl. 106, fig. 27) and listed it in an index but did not describe it.
Nyctochroa basiplaga Felder 1868 [1874] Voyage pl 106 f 27 copy
https://archive.org/details/umdieerdeindenja03akad/page/n262/mode/1up?view=theater

Spoiler alert: I think ALL of the following names refer to this same moth which ranges from Mexico to Costa Rica. These are listed alphabetically, then in chronologic order by date of publication. The current generic placement of each species epithet is noted in bold font.

abdulla Dyar, 1917 [genus Cisthene]
abdulla, Draudt, 1925 [genus Cisthene]
abdulla FUNET [genus Eucyclopera] (accessed 22 Dec 2023)
basiplaga Felder, 1874 [genus Nyctochroa; same on FUNET]
basiplaga, Druce, 1881 [genus Nyctochroa]
basiplaga, Hampson, 1920 [genus Cyanarctia]
carpintera Schaus, 1910 [genus Brycea]
carpintera Hampson, 1920 [genus Cyanarctia]
carpintera FUNET [genus Eucyclopera] (accessed 22 Dec 2023)
ira Druce, 1889 [genus Ptychoglene; also Druce in BCA]
ira Hampson, 1900 [genus Euryptidia]
ira Draudt, 1919 [genus Euryptidia]
ira Scott Chialvo et al, 2018 [genus Euryptidia]
ira NHM(UK) [genus Paratype; listed on FUNET] (accessed 22 Dec 2023)
lithosiaphila Dyar, 1910 [genus Hypomolis]

In 1889, Herbert Druce described a moth from Mexico essentially identical to that of the Felders' as Ptychoglene ira (Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (6)4:90), calling it a “very distinct species”, and illustrating it in the Biologia Centrali-Americana (BCA Lep-Het 2:398; 3: pl. 78, fig. 6).
Ptychoglene ira Druce BCA 3 78-6 edit copy
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/19301582
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/591374
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/591678
Curiously, also in the BCA (Lep-Het, I, p. 155, 1881), Druce had dutifully listed the Felders' Nyctochroa basiplaga but noted that it was “unknown to me.” In his 1900 Catalogue of the moths in the British Museum, Hampson moved ira into the genus Euryptidia, probably based on wing venation characters.

Perhaps unaware of the Felder volumes or the BCA (?), Harrison Dyar published a new species from Mexico in 1910, Hypomolis lithosiaphila (Proc. USNM 38:235, published on June 7, 1910). His description, although typically brief, is quite similar to the moths illustrated by Felder and Druce.
https://archive.org/details/proceedingsofuni381911unit/page/235/mode/1up?view=theater

Complicating matters, just four months later in October 1910, unaware of Felder’s, Druce’s, or Dyar’s species, William Schaus described a “new” lichen moth Brycea carpintera (Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (8) 6 (34):406) from Costa Rica which is apparently identical to the earlier species.
https://archive.org/details/annalsmagazineof861910lond/page/406/mode/1up?view=theater
This is a classic case of researchers in that era working at cross-purposes or quite ignorant of each others' efforts. [Historical sidenote: Schaus, a native New Yorker, spent much time in London as well as traveling in Central and South America collecting Lepidoptera. He later became associated with the U.S. National Museum in about 1919, working alongside Harrison Dyar. Their interesting and sometimes contentious relationship is chronicled by Marc Epstein in his biography of Dyar, "Moths, Myths, and Mosquitos", Oxford University Press, 2016.]

In 1917, Dyar named yet another lichen moth from Mexico, this time placing it in the genus Cisthene, as Cisthene abdulla (Insec. Inscit. Mens. 5(1-3):10), but once again the description is essentially identical to Felder’s basiplaga, Druce’s ira, Dyar’s own lithosiaphila, and Schaus’s carpintera. Dyar's placement of his new species in "Cisthene" followed Hampson's concept of the latter genus which now mainly refers to Eudesmia lichen moths (sensu lato). Neither genus represents a satisfactory placement of abdulla (see Draudt's and Seitz's notes, below).
https://archive.org/details/insecutorinsciti56191718wash/page/n17/mode/1up?view=theater

So by 1920 there were five names in five different genera for essentially the same type of lichen moth. The descriptions were almost identical word for word, and Felder’s and Druce’s images were similar enough to suggest that they were probably the same species, unless there was some interesting mimicry complex in play!

In his 1920 supplement to the Catalogue of Leps in the British Museum, Hampson rearranged some of these species at the genus level, placing them in the genus Cyanarctia, carrying C. carpintera forward as a valid species, but lumping Dyar’s lithosiaphila under Cyanarctia" basiplaga (Cat. Lep. Phal. Br. Mus. Suppl. 2:328-329). Hampson did not address Dyar’s Cisthene abdulla, probably because the British Museum had no specimens at hand. In moving Felder’s basiplaga to the genus Cyanarctia and lumping Dyar’s lithosiaphila with it, he confessed, like Druce, that the species was “unknown to me”, As a fallback choice, Hampson illustrated only the USNM type specimen of Dyar’s lithosiaphila. His illustration looks veeery familiar!
Cyanarctia basiplaga Hampson 1920 pl 57 f 12 copy
https://archive.org/details/catalogueoflepid12brit/page/n255/mode/2up?view=theater

Draudt (in Seitz, "1913", Macrolepidoptera of the World, vol. 6, p. 467, and pl. 39 row l; published in a 1925 supplement entitled, "Additions: Lithosiinae") listed Cisthene abdulla Dyar, and added a note that "this insect [probably] coincides with Cyanarctia basiplaga = Hypomolis lithosiaphila." Later in that same "Additions" supplement, Seitz himself went on to (apparently) synonymize Cyanarctia basiplaga (Felder), lithosiaphila Dyar, Cisthene abdulla Dyar, and Cyanarctia carpintera (Schaus). This seems to leave only Ptychoglene/Euryptidia/Paratype ira out of the fold.
Cisthene abdulla Draudt 1925 pl 39 row l

This species—or this set of names—has not been addressed in detail in nearly a century. There has been a lot of recent research on the biochemistry and phylogenetics of Tiger and Lichen Moths, and even a comprehensive catalogue of a portion of the Neotropical Arctiinae, but none of these efforts have addressed the present set of named species in any useful manner. Scott Chialvo et al. (2018; in the online journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution) included Euryptidia ira in their molecular studies but did not include any of the other “species” mentioned above and came to no conclusions on the proper placement of ira in the grand scheme of things. To my knowledge, @juanmaguey's image (above) is the First Photograph of a Living Specimen of whatever species it is, although there are piles and piles of unidentified Tiger and Lichen Moths in Mexico and Central America. I wandered through them earlier today and did not find any other obvious candidates for this taxon.

So I’m just proposing that Seitz in his 1925 "Additions" was mostly correct, namely, that the several names, in several genera as listed above, all represent the same lichen moth. It will fall to researchers with access to museum specimens and all the modern tools of taxonomy to sort this all out and confirm or refute my guess.

Here are links to Markku Savela’s pages on FUNET for these various species, in the genera where they are currently listed:
https://ftp.funet.fi/pub/sci/bio/life/insecta/lepidoptera/ditrysia/noctuoidea/arctiidae/lithosiinae/eucyclopera/
https://ftp.funet.fi/pub/sci/bio/life/insecta/lepidoptera/ditrysia/noctuoidea/arctiidae/lithosiinae/nyctochroa/
https://ftp.funet.fi/pub/sci/bio/life/insecta/lepidoptera/ditrysia/noctuoidea/arctiidae/lithosiinae/paratype/

Publicado el sábado, 23 de diciembre de 2023 a las 10:38 PM por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

lunes, 18 de diciembre de 2023

Schwarz’s Lichen Moth Elevated to Species Status

I just got my copy of the brand new Pohl & Nanz “Annotated Taxonomic Checklist of the Lepidoptera of North America, North of Mexico” (Wedge Entomol. Res. Foundation, 2023). In it (p. 339), I see that Schwarz's Lichen Moth, Cisthene schwarziorum, has been elevated to species status (revised status) and is no longer considered a “western subspecies” of the Thin-banded Lichen Moth (C. tenuifascia). In that listing, Chris Schmidt (@neoarctia), author of the family Erebidae in the Checklist, does not cite references for the change, only mentioning that it is “based on differences in DNA and genitalic morphology”. This status change has been long anticipated. I previously addressed the identification of schwarziorum in field images in one of my Cisthene ID journal posts six years ago:
https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/gcwarbler/11815-id-guide-3-cont-d-thin-banded-lichen-moth-and-similar-species-in-texas

Schwarziorum was originally described as a full species by Dyar in 1899 but his schwarziorum was based on two specimens, one from Arizona and another from Vera Cruz, Mexico. The latter specimen has subsequently been determined to be the Tamaulipan Lichen Moth (C. subrufa, det. by Knowlton, 1967). Knowlton’s revision of the genus (1967, p. 70) placed Dyar’s Arizona schwarziorum as a synonym of tenuifascia, but provided only minimal details on that population. There is much variation in the color patterns of each species but below are the basic details of how to separate the two species in photos:

Cisthene schwarziorum (Dyar, 1899)
Cisthene schwarziorum, Graham Co., AZ; 22 Aug 2022; ph. C. Sexton

Cisthene tenuifascia Harvey, 1875
Cisthene tenuifascia, Mills Co., TX; 5 Oct 2019; ph. C. Sexton

Recognizing Schwarz’s Lichen Moth is fairly apparent in Arizona but trickier elsewhere. A large collection of images on iNat from Arizona correspond to the typical schwarziorum pattern with a complete, relatively broad yellowish PM band, an elliptic basal yellow patch which usually does not quite reach the PM band on the inner margin, and a ground color which is quite blackish. The color patches are usually pale to deep yellow but many examples are much oranger; these may represent fresher specimens:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=40&taxon_id=564194
Presently, another set of 80+ images in Arizona on iNat currently listed at species level as “Thin-banded” all appear to refer to proper Schwarz’s Lichen Moth and will need to be addressed individually:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?lrank=species&place_id=40&taxon_id=217048
As currently conceived, true Thin-banded Lichen Moth is not known to occur in Arizona.

In New Mexico, not unexpectedly from a biogeographical standpoint, a small number of observations in the s.w. part of the state appear to refer to Schwarz’s Lichen Moth, while a set of records from Albuquerque eastward (i.e. east of the Rio Grande) appear to be proper Thin-banded Lichen Moths:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=9&subview=map&taxon_id=217048
I tentatively put the ID of schwarziorum on a single observation in Utah, but my confidence in that ID is marginal:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=52&taxon_id=564194

Two observations on iNat from Sonora, Mexico are similar to the Arizona set:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6794&taxon_id=564194
A disjunct set of observations in southern Mexico appear very similar to schwarziorum and deserve more detailed taxonomic study.
Jalisco: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=7411&taxon_id=564194
Oaxaca: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=8295&taxon_id=217048
Chiapas: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=97003&taxon_id=217048

Publicado el lunes, 18 de diciembre de 2023 a las 05:35 AM por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

jueves, 07 de diciembre de 2023

Reflections on My 10-year iNat-iversary.

Gee, I ought to get outdoors more...

My health suffers because of iNaturalist. I spend far too much time at the computer and snack on too much junk food as I try to identify obscure moths for other people. The hours of screen time by day leave me with that visual/biochemical hangover at bedtime that all the doctors have warned us about. I lay awake at night in bed, worrying why I can't identify that fungus gnat that seems so distinctive to me. But I'm up the next day, composing an iNat journal post that will thrill about three people around the World, yet tearing my hair out trying to get the formatting to work, or worrying that my Spanish grammar in the brief resumen will make me look estúpido.

Who will be the next person to block me? or disagree with one of my identifications? or, worst of all, properly correct one of my erroneous IDs? I will be humiliated. No one will like me. I will have alienated 2.9 million other human beings scattered around the globe. I won't be able to show my face anywhere....

Wait a minute! Outdoors! I can go out-of-doors! Into Nature! I won't have to interact with my own species for a time. I can recharge my mental batteries. My lithium batteries are all charged up and I only have to open the door and step out.

Ah, the Fresh Air! The sounds of Nature! What a beautiful trail I'm on. There's birds--and I know all of their sounds--and butterflies--and I can name them all--and beautiful flowers and plants--the entire ecology of which I can expound upon at length...to myself, under my breath. And there's a moth, but it flies away too quickly. "I'll see you at the moth sheet tonight, my friend!" And look at this fancy lichen on the oak branch; I can put a name to this one! And that mushroom over there--I know someone who can help me ID that--and the same for that hoverfly on that daisy, and I think I remember the family name for this creepy little millipede under the log.

Uh, Oops! Aaaagh! I've slipped on the leaf litter and fallen and broken my wrist! Oh, the pain...the agony! The frustration...the hassle...the expenses! At least I broke my wrist in a lovely location. And I was smart enough to break my off-hand, my left. I'm well reminded that the outdoors is a dangerous place!

Boy, will I be glad to get back to my computer and rejoin my Community. Safe, secure, accepted. Nature is so interesting....online.

Publicado el jueves, 07 de diciembre de 2023 a las 05:28 PM por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 3 observaciones | 27 comentarios | Deja un comentario

miércoles, 06 de diciembre de 2023

Some Overlooked Tripudia Moths in Mexico

[An English version of this article follows the Spanish version, below.]

Resumen: Druce describió dos nuevas especies similares en el género Thalpochares en Biología Centrali-Americana en 1910: T. hirasa y T. idicra. Más recientemente, las dos especies han sido incluidas en el género Tripudia. Las especies parecen no haber sido reconocidas en el campo durante más de un siglo. Recientemente identifiqué varios ejemplos de las dos especies entre las observaciones de iNaturalist del oeste y sur de México.

Varias especies del género Noctuid Tripudia tienen cada una algún tipo de mancha dorsal rectangular o redondeado de color marrón oscuro en las alas anteriores. Los más extendidos y llamativos son la Tripudia quadrifera y Tripudia rectangula. Herbert Druce describió dos especies relacionadas con estas en el género Thalpochares en la Biología Centrali-Americana en 1910 (Vol. I, p. 314; Vol. III, pl. 29, figs. 15, 16): T. hirasa y T. idicra. Autores posteriores (Hampson, Draudt, etc.) las enumeraron en el género relacionado Cobubatha, pero más recientemente, las dos especies se trasladaron a Tripudia (FUNET).
Thalpochares hirasa BCA III pl29 fig16 Thalpochares idicra BCA III pl29 fig15

Recientemente estaba tratando de ponerle un nombre a una polilla Tripudia no identificada de Sinaloa, México (publicada por @sinaloasilvestre), y noté la similitud con la distintiva "Thalpochares hirasa" de Druce:

Tripudia hirasa: Veranos, Sinaloa, México, Copyright @sinaloasilvestre
Posteriormente, encontré al menos otros ocho registros de esta polilla entre observaciones mexicanas que se remontan a 2017. Los registros provienen en su mayoría de Sinaloa, pero hay al menos un registro de Nayarit y otro registro probable de Baja California Sur. No he podido encontrar otras ilustraciones de esta especie ni otras imágenes en línea. Tripudia hirasa se puede reconocer por la mancha dorsal curva o en forma de maza, delineada de forma estrecha en blanco. La mancha se estrecha considerablemente en el lado distal en el margen interno del ala anterior, lo que le da a la mancha una forma general arqueada o de gancho.

En el curso de la búsqueda de más ejemplos de Tripudia hirasa en imágenes de iNat, noté un conjunto diferente de observaciones de México que coincidían con la descripción e ilustración de Druce en la BCA de "Thalpochares" [= Tripudia] idicra (misma página y enlaces de placas que arriba), y posteriormente encontró un total de siete observaciones que parecen coincidir con esa especie.

Tripudia idicra: cerca de Veranos, Sinaloa, México, Copyright @sinaloasilvestre
Otra vez, no puedo encontrar otras ilustraciones de T. idicra ni ninguna otra imagen en línea. Tripudia idicra aparentemente se distingue de T. hirasa por una mancha dorsal con márgenes blancos que es más grande y más redondeada, que se une ampliamente al margen interno del ala anterior, que no se estrecha como en T. hirasa. T. idicra suele tener un color marrón mucho más oscuro en el área posmediano más allá de la mancha dorsal; este área es generalmente de color marrón cremoso más pálido en T. hirasa. Hay otras diferencias menores en el patrón. Observaciones en iNaturalista de T. idicra son de los estados de Sinaloa, Nayarit y Guerrero, con otros registros en El Salvador y Costa Rica.


Summary: Druce described two similar new species in the genus Thalpochares in the Biologia Centrali-Americana in 1910: T. hirasa and T. idicra. Most recently, the two species have been placed in the genus Tripudia. The species seem to have gone unrecognized in the field for over a century. I recently identified several examples of the two species among iNaturalist observations from western and southern Mexico.

Several species of the Noctuid genus Tripudia each have some type of rectangular or rounded dark brown dorsal patch on the forewings. The most widespread and conspicuous of these are the Harp-winged Tripudia and Rectangular Tripudia. Two species related to these were described in the genus Thalpochares by Herbert Druce in the Biologia Centrali-Americana in 1910 (Vol. I, p. 314; Vol. III, pl. 29, figs. 15, 16): T. hirasa and T. idicra. Later authors (Hampson, Draudt, etc.) listed these in the related genus Cobubatha, but most recently, the two species have been moved to Tripudia (FUNET). [See original images from BCA, above.]

Recently I was trying to put a name to an unidentified Tripudia moth from Sinaloa, Mexico (posted by @sinaloasilvestre), and noted the similarity to Druce's distinctive "Thalpochares" hirasa. [See image above.] Subsequently, I found at least eight other records of this moth among Mexican observations going back to 2017. The records mostly come from Sinaloa, but there is at least one record from Nayarit and another probable record from the Baja California Sur. I have been unable to find any other illustrations of this species or other online images. Tripudia hirasa can be recognized by the curved or club-shaped dorsal patch which is narrowly outlined with white. The patch narrows considerably on the distal side at the forewing inner margin, giving the patch an overall arched or hook shape.

In the course of searching through iNat images for more examples of Tripudia hirasa, I noted a different set of observations from Mexico which matched Druce's description and illustration in the BCA of "Thalpochares" [= Tripudia] idicra (same page and plate links as above), and subsequently found a total of seven observations which seem to match that species. [See image above.] Again, I am unable to find any other illustrations of T. idicra nor any other online images. Tripudia idicra is apparently distinguished from T. hirasa by a white-margined dorsal patch which is larger and more rounded, meeting the forewing inner margin broadly, not indented as in T. hirasa. T. idicra usually has much more dark brown color in the postmedian area beyond the dorsal patch; this area is generally paler creamy-brown color in T. hirasa. There are other minor differences in pattern. iNaturalist observations of T. idicra are from the states of Sinaloa, Nayarit, and Guerrero, with other records in El Salvador and Costa Rica.

Publicado el miércoles, 06 de diciembre de 2023 a las 07:21 PM por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 6 comentarios | Deja un comentario

martes, 04 de julio de 2023

iNatting in Real Time - An Experiment (for me)

Mary Kay and I took a couple of hikes in Forest Park in suburban Portland, OR, today. And today's effort was purposefully a little different for me in the field. Because (a) we were hiking in a densely-shaded forest which was giving my small point-and-hope Canon camera fits in the low-light conditions, and (b) we were in an urban park with pretty good cell phone reception and I had my trusty new iPhone 14 at hand, I decided to go full “iPhone-iNaturalist” mode for the day. This was a way to both accumulate some more observations but, more importantly, to better familiarize myself with the operation of the iOS version of the iNaturalist app. Previously I had occasionally “Explored” an area with the app, but I rarely uploaded observations in real time in the field. This was a chance to try my hand at the latter type of work flow.

So in about 4 hours and 3 miles of hiking (a pretty typical iNat pace for me), I made and uploaded about 75 observations. In my recent uploads (for July 3 from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PDT), this includes all the plants and a few critters from https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/170866351 through https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/170909028.

I came away with the following take-home lessons:

— It’s so much fun and so easy to accumulate observations in real time; this is a drastic reduction in the work required compared to my usual tedious work flow that I’m infamous for. See, for instance:
https://www.inaturalist.org/posts/37458-my-inaturalist-upload-process (Am I right? @sambiology, @kimberlietx)

— In addition to the fun of quicker uploads, I think the real-time and repeated access to field identifications is a hugely positive learning tool. I found myself more readily cementing into my neurons the names of new-to-me plants without the need of continually leafing through a field guide or waiting until I got back to other references at home. This, of course, is a direct result of being in the field in an area with relatively strong cell phone coverage. Elsewhere in the “boondocks”, this capability wouldn’t exit. Using the app in the field as a handy learning tool is also constrained by the following issue:

— Adding identifications to observations for real-time uploads is still a somewhat frustrating and iffy process. iNat’s Computer Vision is amazing and is improving with every release. However, suggestions for plants are still most commonly placed at genus level in a botanically diverse area like the Pacific Northwest. That means a lot of genus-level uploads and the need to wait until I get back to references (i.e. hard-copy books and full-fledged internet) or wait on others to refine those IDs. Maybe this shows my own impatience or my pathological self-reliance on such matters; I am uncomfortable relying on external “validation” of IDs.

— Because of the limited editing tools available to use on images in the iOS version of the app, I quickly found it necessary (to meet my own demanding standards for cropping, etc.) to take images with the Camera app first, then edit them a little bit (especially cropping) in Photos before grabbing them from the Photos stream to upload them as observations from within the iNat app. If I simply accessed the camera from within the app, I was left with whatever image size, shape, and quality was obtained in real time. The newer iPhones have great cameras, but most often they just don’t meet my standards for iNat submissions. I understand that for the vast majority of cell phone contributors of iNat observations, this is less of an issue. But as the cliché goes, “I have my standards.”

All-in-all today’s hiking with the iNat app was a very positive experience and exposure for me. I’m sure you’ll be seeing more such uploads from me in the future, but…I’m still old school, so I’m not giving up my beloved field guides, books, MPG, BG, Biodiversity Heritage Library, and other tools. My work flow for the thousands of observations thus far (and in the future) accumulated on the present road trip will still take the pathway characterized by my long-ingrained snail pace!

Publicado el martes, 04 de julio de 2023 a las 02:27 AM por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

martes, 18 de abril de 2023

Cross-Post: A Newly-Identified Texas Endemic Pyralid

On the Moths of the Greater Austin project journal, I just uploaded a detailed account of our (@jcochran706 and me) recent recognition of a Texas endemic Phycitine moth, the "Cute Plateau Pyralid", which flies for only a brief time in the Spring. That post has some identification notes and will soon have some supporting images. In the meantime, here are links to the iNat species pages for the Cute Plateau Pyralid, it's MPG page, and it's most similar relative, the Dusky Raisin Moth, and it's MPG page.

Publicado el martes, 18 de abril de 2023 a las 11:21 PM por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario