07 de julio de 2022

A confused match!

Lately Symmerista moths have come to the lights at our cabin, and we found one at a rest area along Interstate-75. An odd one showed up at the lights in the wee hours (2:51 am) of July 26. It was quite fluttery and not stopping at first for photos. It seemed weighted-down, and something dark was apparent at the end of its abdomen, possibly another moth?

Eventually the Symmerista settled with its own wings tucked under the wings of its hitchhiker and I was able to concentrate on getting enough light to reveal the identity of a second moth, firmly attached by the end of its abdomen to the end of the Symmerista’s abdomen. I know that sometimes the female of a moth species looks very different from the male, but this smaller, dark moth was a completely different shape than the Symmerista. It looked like a very big tortricid.

Which it was! I have encountered the Large Aspen Tortrix (Choristoneura conflictana) before.

This one was locked in attempted copulation with the larger Symmerista. I tried to measure the length of each of the two moths, but the larger, dominating Symmerista was not about to keep still. It hopped onto the ruler, so I used the opportunity to photograph the two moths from beneath and in profile to show their connection.

The Symmerista took flight from my ruler and landed on my shirt. In this view I could not see the tortricid. On closer examination I could see the tortricid’s back end, so it must have been more sharpIy folded under the Symmerista. The Symmerista flew again and landed at the window beyond which a UV light beckoned. After another flight the pair landed with the tortricid’s wings beneath the Symmerista’s. The Symmerista took off again and I lost track of it in the darkness. The tortricid’s movement was totally at the whim of the Symmerista.

Soon after all this I found a lone Symmerista (below) and snapped a photo to see if I could figure out if this was the same moth minus its partner. A close-up view on my laptop revealed some differences in markings. Also, I could see this new Symmerista had pectinate antennae, while the coupled moth lacked any branching on the antennae. This indicates that the mating Symmerista was a female, and this new moth was a male. The copulating pair was probably somewhere off in the darkness.

How could such a mismatch happen? My guess is that the air was laden with pheromones of both species, and the coupled moths managed to back into the wrong mate. While this coupling wouldn’t result in hybrid offspring (they are not even in the same family!), this certainly reveals how possible it could be for closely related species to hybridize.

I don’t know if this sort of thing is observed very often! I felt it was especially important to document. I’m interested in hearing about whether other people have found mismatched moths.

Publicado el 07 de julio de 2022 a las 01:27 AM por susan_kielb susan_kielb | 3 observaciones | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de junio de 2022

Great references for fly IDs!

I posted a deer fly with a guess for the species and received a correction with a fantastic key from ken_j_allison. See: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/122034737#activity_identification_0dc6b29f-a2f6-4d22-8246-df7cd9aea782.

Another fly ID (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/89857551#activity_identification_14755726-009d-4b4f-8452-b79bde597f96) from fly-expert, Even Dankowicz, led me to his bookmark of his IDs, and I can filter this down to Michigan-only if I want in shopping for help with cool flies that I decide to post (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?ident_user_id=edanko&not_user_id=edanko&place_id=29&view=species). I get a lot of Dipterans at my moth lights, and many I haven't bothered to post, as I really want to focus on moths here. I have to remind myself that other people might be very interested in them! Even better is the incredible Fly Guide linked at Even Dankowicz's profile page especially designed for field and photo ID:

I wish at each taxon level the "About" tab could include references, including links to openly available sites, or even links that might involve a pay-wall with a heads-up note of how people might access them through a library. I'm afraid that would be a daunting addition, and it would have to include notation about whether the guide is peer-referenced in some way, or at least some measure of credentials for the author...

Publicado el 17 de junio de 2022 a las 07:47 PM por susan_kielb susan_kielb | 1 observación | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

10 de mayo de 2022

13 de marzo de 2022

Fungi references and notes

13 March 2022
On our recent road trip to Florida I photographed a few fungi, and after posting on iNat I'm finding that I want to plant some references where I will be able to find them in the future, so I will start here! In this case I posted a "False-Turkey Tail" -- a beautiful fungus we found growing on a log beside the Palm Hammock Trail on Merritt Island, just down the road east from the visitor's center. Fellow iNatters helped guide me. I am grateful to @matthewbeziat for including references when he pushed my Seek-app ID back to genus. I learned a lot more from investigating the references than if someone just suggested a different species. :-)

In this article the authors clean-up some confusion with technical delineation of three Stereum species, and the visible morphological traits that help a field naturalist distinguish them. The figure in the article is especially helpful:

And this one, back to Michael Kuo's Mushroomexpert.com site:
Do I want to assemble a chemical testing kit?

I know I have read about bruising colors, and am trying to remember how long it takes to see these colors appear. I know it's in my books, so I should get to work.

Publicado el 13 de marzo de 2022 a las 02:56 PM por susan_kielb susan_kielb | 1 observación | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

02 de agosto de 2020

Lepidopteran Flights

As we size-up our moth visitors who have chosen to stay at the lights after dawn, I can't help but note the phenology of species. For example, Jack Pine Twig Budworm Moths were more than numerous over the past week or three, and now they are tapering off. I look around and see brown patches in the jack pines all around and wonder if it's the work of these moths' larvae, and now their eggs assure future brown patches.

This past week White Eulithis Moths were were numerous, and today I may have only seen one or two. American Idias may also be falling back in number. Little yellow Tortricid leafrollers like the Maple Basswood Leafroller (and more) have graced the side of the house in big numbers, and when I walk through the bracken and blueberries the air is filled with their fluttering. They confuse the eye with a jerky flight, then alight on a leaf for only an instant before slipping to the underside, out of view. With the slightest disturbance they are off again.

Each species may have single or numerous broods, I'm just becoming more aware. We have a sudden surge in Compton Tortoiseshell butterflies, and Mourning Cloaks (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/53316915) are also making a new appearance in the neighborhood, reminding me of the hungry batch of caterpillars I found nearby on July 16.

This is my first year of paying close attention to the visitors at our moth light, though I have casually photographed them before. I look forward to what comes next. I also am amazed by postings by moth-ers nearby, and Seabrooke Leckie's moths in Ontario. Studying their finds helps me in noticing traits in the moths that come here.

Publicado el 02 de agosto de 2020 a las 04:05 PM por susan_kielb susan_kielb | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de junio de 2020


15 June 2015
Chippewa County, Michigan
Naomikong Point, at the south end of Whitefish Bay

The North Country Trail passes a scenic overlook pullout on the Curley Lewis Scenic Byway, where you can park, and then take the trail down into a beautiful forest of maple, yellow birch, and cedar. Boardwalks take you through saturated and submerged parts of the trail. We love to visit this part of the trail at different times in the spring and summer to botanize and birdwatch. We find several species of orchids here, from Pink Lady-slippers to bog orchids, Purple-Fringed Orchids, twayblades, and Rattlesnake Plantain. Beyond orchids, we keep finding plants that amaze us.

The Curley Lewis Byway has several pullouts and parking areas for fishing and recreating, and this year the road has been repaved and a hard-packed shoulder has been added. We highly recommend taking advantage of those parking areas to explore!

Publicado el 17 de junio de 2020 a las 11:35 PM por susan_kielb susan_kielb