Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Moth Species

While many wait for word that the Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea) have returned to the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest or that the Dwarf Trillium (Trillium pusillum) has finally bloomed, we have news of a new species of moth identified as part of the old-growth, cypress-tupelo swamp.

Sarah Todd, the new seasonal naturalist for this spring, caught sight of an Eight-spotted Forester (Alypia octomaculata) in the parking area as we walked toward the power line that crosses the swamp.  Ironically, we were going to the power line to show Sarah where we envision a native plant plot to attract butterflies, dragonflies, and birds for observation and identification by visiting students.  As the trip was to be quick and simple, we left the camera in the office.  Stepping outside without the camera never ceases to be a mistake.  The moth settled on the light-colored driveway, which contrasted nicely with its nearly-black wings.  On the dorsal side, two large yellow spots on the forewing were opposite two large white spots on the hindwing.  Bee-pollen-like orange on the front and middle legs and yellow tegula, or small appendages at the base of the wings, gave this moth a distinctive appearance.  There was no doubt as to whether or not we had seen this moth before.

Although we missed the opportunity to capture an image of the moth, we have added it to our growing list of insects at the sanctuary.  Images and additional information on the Eight-spotted Forester can be found here.

Other notable firsts today, Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) and Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) were both heard outside the outdoor classroom.

P.S. Brad Dalton was able to supply an image that he took at Beidler Forest in April 2007.

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