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…

Southern Armyworm Moth

This tiny (8mm) little friend was making him/herself at home on one of my baby sunflowers, and unfortunately had to be (humanely) relocated to other green stuff a distance away. Southern armyworm caterpillars are blackish green to green with a uniform light brown or orange head; otherwise they are quite variable in appearance. There is…

Coffee-Loving Pyrausta Moth

This red and gold crambid moth has some individual variation to its gold-stripes-on-red pattern, but I find most of them look a lot like a smiling jack-o-lantern! You can probably guess by the common name, coffee-loving pyrausta moth, what the larvae of this moth enjoy eating most — wild coffee, Psychotria nervosa. Pyrausta tyralis lives…

Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth

A cousin to the eastern tent caterpillar, the forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) doesn’t actually make tents; instead, it constructs silken mats along tree trunks and branches. Like its cousin, however, it also congregates in large numbers and the mats can be just as unsightly and large as the tents. The caterpillars are harmless to…

Drab Brown Wave Moth

If you squint, you can just about see the concentric lines on this moth’s wings which sort of resemble waves lapping at a sandy beach. Other “wave moths” have much more distinct waves-on-a-beach markings — it’s just my luck I found the only one that looks like cookies ‘n’ cream. The drab brown wave moth…

Grass Tubeworm Moth

Another in the unexpectedly immense category of “little brown moths”, Acrolophus arcanella has some neat geometric patterns and — well, I’m sure that real entomologists don’t call it a “pompadour”, but it’s a neat little lion’s mane of fluffy scales on the back of the head and “shoulders”. The name Acrolophus actually comes from the…

Cypress Emerald Moth

The moth family Geometridae has a number of brilliant little bright green moths in it, not even all in the same genus. To make things weirder, the cypress emerald moth (Nemoria elfa) also comes in a red or brownish flavor, which appears to be seasonal to cooler weather. Adults are approximately 9-12mm across, with females…

Casemaking Clothes Moth

To get a sense of how tiny this moth is, it’s sitting on my window screen. The whole moth is perhaps 3mm long. The casemaking clothes moth gets its common name from its behavior — its larvae, which look like regular caterpillars, form flattened cases for themselves out of whatever’s handy, and primarily eat fibrous…

Yellow Mocis

Moths in the genus Mocis are generally medium-sized (about 26mm across), and yellowish with closely related spot patterns. There are five such moths in North America, all in the southeastern US, more or less. The range of the yellow mocis is roughly from the east coast of Texas, all along the Gulf coast, through to…

Spurge Spanworm Caterpillar (and Predator)

This spurge spanworm caterpillar (Oxydia vesulia) is expertly camouflaged as a stick, but that did not do it much good against the nest of tiny scorpions it happened to wander over. I saw the caterpillar on the wood and took a photo of it — and only saw the suspicious, grasping claws after enlarging the…

Yellow-Striped Armyworm Moth

As far as I can tell, this individual was taking a drink out of a tiny puddle on an overturned flowerpot. Its forefeet were not even breaking the surface tension; and, when I checked by later, it had flown safely away. The yellow-striped armyworm moth, which has the enchanting Latin name Spodoptera ornithogalli, is a…

Carpet-Grass Webworm Moth

This handsome little fellow is demonstrating a “downward dog” position. The carpet-grass webworm moth (Fissicrambus haytiellus) is a nondescript moth in the family Crambidae, which includes grass moths. “Grass moths” fold themselves up like the photo above when at rest to blend in with grass stems. (It does not work as well when the moth…

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!)….

Salvinia Stem-Borer

A small (1cm) white and brown mottled moth with an astonishingly close resemblance to its cousin, S. ecclesialis, the Salvinia stem-borer feeds on many types of aquatic plants, including water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and, of course, Salvinia rotundfolia, a water fern. Since its caterpillars can do a lot of damage to those plants, even to…

Spiderling Plume Moth

Oh, how I love these little guys! This plume moth looks almost completely different from the other plume moth I recently posted — the ends of the forewings, the little poofs on the joints of the hind legs, the pattern on the abdomen — and yet they are both plume moths in the family Pterophoridae….

Belfrage’s Plume Moth

Plume moths (family Pterophoridae, which includes several genera) share this striking resting position, where the forewings are extended laterally and tightly closed up. (Open, the forewings have several bedraggled, feathery bristles beneath.) Various Pterophorids are pests of crops like artichokes and of ornamental plants; some are used for biological control of invasive plant species. These…