8th Night of Moth Week

I forgot to take a photo of the setting around the Temple of Ultraviolet Light, so instead here is an interesting striped morph of Pyrrharctia isabella. Ive never seen one like this before

Tonight I’m somewhere I’m not supposed to be, a county park/natural area in the middle of Clark County which closes at dusk. I tried to get permission to be here, and was directed to fill out a mess of paperwork. And then I never heard a word. So I’m just gonna do it anyway, since I would expect that, since I’m not having a party, building a fire, or leaving a bunch of garbage, the worst that could happen is they tell me to leave. 

Euzophera semifuneralis

I call this place the Pristine Forest, because as soon as one gets away from the main road there is an amazing lack of non-native, invasive species of plants. No Himalayan blackberries, no ivy, no weedy Asteraceae, no scotch broom- just a forest filled with native conifers and native deciduous trees, salmonberry, thimbleberry, elderberry, osoberry, and several species of ferns. It is apparently a 2nd growth forest but it must’ve been cut a long time ago because there are Doug-fir and Western red-cedar that are over 4’ dbh. A couple creeks come together right below the plateau I’m on, and there are abundant willows and alders down there, as well as at least one Oregon ash and one cottonwood that I know of. 

A poor photo of a Lateroligia ophiogramma that was shivering its wings. I intended to get a better one but it didn’t stick around.

There is a meadow where I’ve often gone looking for butterflies and dragonflies, and whenever I thought about mothing here I always pictured setting up in it. But I feel like at least part of the reason last night was so successful (though it undoubtedly was mostly because it was very good, untrammeled habitat) was because I was not competing with ol’ Luna, which is fuller and rose earlier tonight, so I set up in an open part of the woods. And I had 2 moths come in while I was securing the 2nd sheet at about 9pm, which I take as a good sign, and I won’t get skunked tonight. I forgot to check the temp when I parked my van, but I hung my thermometer a few minutes ago and it now says it’s 66⁰, with a very light wind and clear skies. 

Ecliptopera silaceata

9:44- So far I’ve been visited by a Nicrophorus  carrion beetle with orange marks, a half dozen Herpetogramma abdominalis, Udea profundalis, an uncountable number of tiny dipterids, and a fair number of mosquitoes. I did not think to throw deet into the bag I carried a half mile into this spot, and I somewhat regret that. 

I’ve seen several moths that I believed (with an assist from Carl Barrentine) to be Aseptis binotata, but they were too worn to be sure. With this one I’m sure.

10:24- The joint is hopping now, with a few dozen moths dancing around the light and hanging out on the sidelines. It’s mostly the same species I found last night, although I can’t separate some of the Noctuids with busy patterns unless I’ve got comparison photos. That’s not at all surprising, since it’s similar habitat, and I may have to dig into the micros if I want to add to the tally tonight. There was an intriguing little crambid that I didn’t recognize at all, but it spooked and hasn’t returned. The temp has dropped to 62⁰, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed things down. 

This moth really confused me, and until I started looking through the Hypenas online it never occurred to me it might be Hypena bijugalis

11:22- Still getting lots of action, but it’s still almost all things I saw last night, with a couple other acquaintances from earlier in the week. I did just find a Hypena bijugalis (Dimorphic Bomolocha Moth) , and there is another Hypena-ish moth that I don’t recognize. I went for a short walk to look for crawling insects on the trail, and to see how far away my light was visible. Turns out that the forest is open enough that I could see it for over a hundred yards in every direction, so I’m drawing from a good size area. The highlight of that walk came when I was watching a moth fluttering along in the glow of my headlamp, and a bat swooped in and snagged it not ten feet from my face!

Anhimella perbrunnea

Back home-1:15- I have commitments early tomorrow (technically today), so I had been planning to shut things down about midnight anyway, but the universe gave me an assist by having my light shut down at 12:02. I really hope it’s just that my battery went dead, but that remains to be seen. Things picked up a scosh near the end, diversity wise, and I may have as many as 10 new species, but I missed getting photographs of at least three interesting but unknown species. Between tonight and what I still have to identify from last night, I might be getting close to my goal of 100 species. (Update Sunday afternoon- I am up to 102 species!)

Dysstroma citrata

Moth tally update- 

From Sunday;


Mesapamea secalis ( Thank you Tomas Mustelin!)

From Friday;


Drepana bilineata 


Dasychira vagans

Spilosoma virginica

Zanclognatha jacchusalis 


Euchlaena tigrinaria

Euphyia intermediata

Trichodezia californiata 

Xanthorhoe ferrugata


Malacosoma disstria 


Adelphagrotis stellaris 

Pseudorthodes irrorata

From night 8, Saturday, July 29, 2023;


Dysstroma citrata

Ecliptopera silaceata


Hypena bijugalis (Dimorphic Bomolocha Moth)  

Scoliopteryx libatrix (Herald) 


Anhimella perbrunnea

Aseptis binotata

Lateroligia ophiogramma


Euzophera semifuneralis 


Morophagoides burkerella

With these 21 additions I have reached my goal of 100 species in Clark County during Moth Week, and the count now stands at 102. 

Got lucky figuring out this little micromoth was Morophagoides burkerella

15 thoughts on “8th Night of Moth Week”

  1. A very interesting week! I’ve also been out every night on my property looking for moths, and have been doing it every night since April. Getting new species is always very cool and your count of over 100 species for the week is great. You don’t list many micromoths and I wonder if they aren’t there, you aren’t photographing them, or not identifying them. They can be difficult to ID. It would be fun to discuss results, similarities and difference for the areas, so send me a direct email if you want to do that.

    Bob Pearson
    Packwood, WA

    1. Thanks Bob! The micros are hard, so unless there is nothing else going I don’t photograph too many. I had an interest in Eudonia/Scoparia, but I got frustrated. If I ever get bored with macros I’ll turn my attention to micros😀

      1. Most of the moths I haven’t identified yet are micromoths! Some of the macro genera are pretty tough too. I’m up to 472 species for the year in just my backyard now, so I should get well above 500 with August and September to come, amybe even 600. It’s been interesting to see some of the moths you found that I don’t appear to have in my area.

        1. Yes they are. I pretty much ignore Eupithecia and Macaria too! The biggest reason I ignore the trickier ones is simple laziness, but I do justify that because most of my readers won’t or can’t make those distinctions either.
          As I said, you must have a great backyard, but your diligence and effort should be applauded, Bob! My hat is off to you, sir!

  2. This brings back memories. Back in the late 80s my partner at the time did a summer-long, black-light survey of the moths that came to worship, so to speak, at the temple of our upstairs veranda. I still remember her pinning hundreds of hapless moths, which she sent away to DAO in Ottawa for identification. I think her total for the season was about 260 species, though it may have been more.

    I tell you this only because your Moth Week posts have been so inspirational. Who can say; perhaps I’ll even get up the gumption to attempt a second summer moth survey 35 years later!

    1. Glad to hear you’re finding these inspiring, Trevor! Even just using a UV light for a porch light would give you interesting results with no gumption required, although I can see where a man of your curiosity and scientific bent would have a hard time not turning it into a study.

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