5th Night of Moth Week

Temple of the Ultraviolet Light

On day 4 of moth week I did not set up any lights, since it was Pam’s birthday and I wanted to spend time with her, but frankly I also needed time to catch up on photo editing, identification, and sleep. I did buy a couple of the ripest bananas I could find and a can of peaches and blended them with stale beer and brown sugar to try my hand at baiting for moths in the local cemetery, which is only 100 yards from our apartment, but despite painting the trunks of 10 trees and visiting them hourly I didn’t find a single moth. The only thing besides earwigs that I found on any of them was a nice Thyanta custator stink bug. 

Thyanta custator

But I’m back at it on night 5. I’m down at the area east of Marine Park along a little backwater of the Columbia River on the south side of Vancouver. It’s mostly clear, but breezy, with a temperature of 74⁰ at sunset, and the moon is waxing gibbous in the southern sky, and won’t set until a little after midnight. But that’s not the only luminous competition here, as there are many lights in the area. I’m hoping the quality of the habitat makes up for the factors going against me, as it did 4 years ago on my only other running of lights here, when I found about 15 species in one night. The habitat is much like Sunday night’s location, flood plain with lots of willows, cottonwoods, and Oregon ash, but there are no oaks that I know of. 

Hemeroplanis historialis

10:01- So far I’ve got a few hundred tiny beetles, more of those dull reddish brown scarab beetle, several Harmonia axyridis lady beetles, a few hundred little dipterids, and some caddisflies, but the only lep was a single Elophila obliteralis, which species I have found all four nights of this project, not surprising since their larvae feed on pondweeds like the nearly ubiquitous Lemna minor (Common Duckweed). I was just about to type that the wind seemed to be calming, and then a gust nearly uprooted my setup. But unless there’s a big low pressure system moving in that I don’t know about I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t mellow out as the evening wears on. 

Xanthorhoe labradorensis

10:57- Well, I was starting to wonder if this was a bad call and I might get skunked, because, despite getting another couple 10-lined June beetles, and enjoying watching the bats flitting about in the moonlight (especially cool when they are silhouetted against the lunar light), I wasn’t getting any moths. But then at 10:50 a very worn noctuid that may be an Apamea devastator, showed up and settled down, and then a couple minutes later a moth that may be Hemeroplanis historialis and a pretty little geometer that I don’t recognize at all. So I’ll add at least 1 species to the week’s tally, provided I can identify it. 

Gluphisia sp., probably septentrionis

12:04- Good thing I’m not a weatherman, because I was sure wrong about the wind. Not only has it not moderated I just had a gust that pulled the tent poles apart. 

Back home-1:14- So, I’m not saying that it wasn’t a pleasant way to spend a few hours, but ultimately I’d say it was a bad call to go mothing at that site, at least on that night. And, to top things off, just as I was whining about the wind, the sprinklers came on. I rescued my light before it got ruined, but everything else got soaked. Which is fine, it’ll dry out tomorrow, but the fact remains that I only saw 6 moths at my lights and 2 of those I’ve found every night this week, and 2 of the others are possibly not identifiable because they are so worn. But I did find that little geometer that I’d never seen before, which turned out to be Xanthorhoe labradorensis, and any night with a lifer can’t be all bad. I do apologize for the lack of photos. I figured that I’d take some filler shots at the end of the night if there weren’t many moths, but the sprinklers put the kibosh on that idea. 

New species Wednesday night July 26;


Xanthorhoe labradorensis


Gluphisia sp., probably septentrionis, but too worn to be certain

Tally for the week is now 43

I can’t even hazard a guess as to what the species is of this worn noctuid moth

6 thoughts on “5th Night of Moth Week”

  1. Probably a silly question, Dan, but how did you known Xanthorhoe labradorensis was a geometrid before looking it up?

    1. Not silly at all, Trevor! Geometers tend to perch with their wings spread, exposing some hindwing, and their wings tend to be very thin. They also tend to have a pattern of transverse lines, and to have a small discal dot, rather than an orbicular and a reniform spot. But some Erebidae and Crambidae can still fool me.

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