Ornate Bella Moth

The most common name for this moth (Utetheisa ornatrix) seems to be the ornate bella moth, but my favorite is “rattlebox moth”. Apparently there’s a whole family of plants (Crotalaria) which produce seed pods that rattle if shaken, and this little moth loves to eat them. Crotalaria contain alkaloids which make the moths, and their…

Ambiguous Moth

The ambiguous moth! This delightfully-named little moth may well become my spirit animal. About 2cm across, this tiny brown moth, resembling a very small leaf with a rhinoceros horn, is in the family Erebdiae, the litter moths. Litter moths are named because many of their caterpillars feed on dead plant matter. Adults come in a…

Black-Winged Dahana

The black-winged dahana, Dahana atripennis, is an inch-long, primarily black moth with a red abdomen, orange head, iridescent blue thorax, and two yellow stripes on its black wings. As far as I can tell from photos on bugguide.net, both sexes have those long, attractive, black feathered antennae (or all photos on bigguide.net are of males!)….

Striated Lichen Moth

You’d think there’d be pages and pages written on this glorious little orange and black fellow, but no: Wikipedia has three whole sentences on the striated lichen moth (Cisthene striata). They’re about 10mm long, and differentiated from a number of similarly patterned species by the light gray stripes on the forewings. The Peterson Field Guide…

Saltmarsh Moth Caterpillar

This little fellow is (very probably) a Saltmarsh Moth caterpillar (Estigmene acrea), but again this is one of those “identifications” wherein this could also be any one of a number of closely related species. Below, an earlier instar salt marsh moth caterpillar does an amazing yoga pose: The just-hatched caterpillars are mostly yellow, with little…