For the 3rd night of Moth Week I’ve got my lights set up in the back and side yards of a house owned by a friend of Pam’s. I think the neighborhood is at least 50 years old, and there are mature trees aplenty. I’m not good with ornamental species, but at the place I’m at there are 2 pines, a cedar, some arborvitae, a hazelnut, and some other things I can’t identify. It was 74⁰ at sunset, with almost no wind, and mostly overcast skies that are said to have a 60% chance of precipitating rain onto my setup. But for now it’s dry, muggy but comfortable, and those clouds will slow the post dusk temperature drop. I have no idea what to expect here tonight. Last summer when these folks were on vacation and Pam was watering their garden I found some interesting bugs here, but not a large number or a high diversity.
9:38- Not much activity yet, and no macromoths. There are several reddish brown scarab beetles that look like the ones I found at my dad’s house a couple nights ago, but they are rather undistinguished with no markings, and I’m trying to keep my focus on moths anyway, although it does make me wonder if they or their larvae feed on grass. There are a few micromoths, and this is probably a good time to comment on my lack of deduction to the micros. First off, I have to admit it’s laziness. Figuring out most micromoths is a lot of work, and much of the time one has to examine genitalia to be positive. But not always, and I’d put more effort into them if it wasn’t for two related traits they have- they are very spooky, so it’s a real challenge to get in situ photos of them, and they don’t stay in one spot, even after a night in the fridge. If they’d just sit still, I would make more of an effort. I’ve lost a countless number of them in our apartment. Oftentimes I lose them as soon as I take the lid off the container, straight out of the fridge. Seems to be quite a few geometrids that are also relatively immune to being chilled out.
10:32- I got my first macromoths, a Furcula scolopendrina, an Idaea dimidiata, and a Cosmia praeacuta. I also found a relatively large and very active beetle that I think may be a longhorn, and I had to collect it despite my focus on moths, and a big ol’ Polyphylla decemlineata (Ten-lined June Beetle) crashed into my sheets with an audible thump. Supposedly they’ll hiss at you, but I’ve never heard it. Maybe I’ll get lucky tonight. I also photographed a few micros and we’ll have to see if I can make any progress on them, and missed a couple that had some distinctive markings. Still no rain, and the temperature is 69⁰.
I never got back to writing this account on Monday night, although it never got particularly busy. I found another interesting longhorn beetle, which turned out to be Centrodera spurca, and I spent a fair amount of time ascertaining that, but was able to do so and leave the beetle where it was. I also was visited by an interesting native stink bug, Banasa sordida, and a non native beetle Xanthogaleruca luteola (Elm Leaf Beetle), which happens to have been the 7th species I profiled on this site. I got better photos this time. I spent a lot of the time just looking at and trying to photograph the micromoths, because there were so few macros, which seems odd because it never did rain and the temperature was still 66⁰ when I packed up at 12:30.
The only noctuids that I found that added to the tally were not at my lights. I was thinking about what Carl Barrentine once told me about moths hiding in the shadows, so I went to check out the covered deck on the back of the house. It turns out they have a bug zapper next to the hot tub, and all three noctuids were in its vicinity, two of which were only still extant because of the small diameter mesh of the guard, since they were prowling that surface looking for a way in.
All in all it was an interesting experience, and having figured out 3 tiny moths I’m not as skeered of them as I was before. I also realized that if I leave them be for long enough they become a bit more approachable. And the first longhorn beetle that I found turns out to be the first record for Washington state on BugGuide of the invasive pest beetle Trichoferus campestris (velvet longhorn beetle), so possibly I contributed a bit of knowledge to the world.
I identified one additional species from Sunday night, July 23;
Positive identifications from Monday night, July 24;
That brings the total for moth week up to 41 species