Friday, November 16, 2018

Linden Looper Moth

Linden Loopers are a fall moth in the Geometridae, or Inchworm family.

Linden Loopers are adapted for remaining active in colder weather, when most other insects are inactive.  In one study (cited below) of another cold-adapted Geometrid moth, the Winter Moth, Operophtera brumata,  it was noted that the flight muscles operate at lower temperatures and that they have a higher flight muscle to body mass ratio than a warm-adapted moth.

The female Linden Looper Moths are flightless, which is the case for a number of cold weather Geometrids.  By losing the ability to fly, they have more energy to devote to egg production.

Even with these adaptation, being an insect active in the cold is a physiological challenge.  The advantage is that there are fewer insect predators present in the colder months of fall

Marden, James H. 1995. Evolutionary Adaptation of Contractile Performance in Muscle of Ectothermic Winter-Flying Moths.  The Journal of Experimental Biology.  198, 2087 - 2094.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

An Illustrated Life List: Hermit Thrush

I've been watching Hermit Thrushes eat Virginia Creeper berries in our backyard all weekend.  The V. Creeper vines hang down over a window at the back of the house. 

This afternoon I sit at a desk by the window the Hermit Thrushes flutter up from the ground to nab a berry, sometimes perching for a bit within view.

Snow fell in the morning.  As the backyard garden disappeared under a thin layer of white and the thrushes kept coming for berries I had the satisfying sense that all my hours of work in the garden were for these Hermit Thrushes.

Seeing the berries eaten by these birds gives me a sense of completion for the year's garden season

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Small Things That Make You Itch

A pictorial guide to the life cycles of very small critters that can leave you with an itchy rash.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Late Summer Moth and Caterpillars

All moths and caterpillars in this post were found at Whitewater State Park.

Every night it sounded like there was a slow, gentle rain falling on our tent.  But there was no rain, there were barely any clouds in the sky.  I think the sound was that of frass (caterpillar droppings) falling from many unseen caterpillars in the Hackberry tree by our tent.

White-marked Tussock Moth - Orgyia leucostigma
Tussock Moth family, Lymantriidae.  Feeds on a wide variety of woody plants.

Pale Beauty - Campaea perlata
 Looper, Inchworm and Spanner family, Geometridae.

Grapevine Skeletonizer - Harrisina americana
Leaf Skeletonizer family, Zygaenidae.  Feeds on Grape vines and Virginia Creeper.

Banded Tussock Moth - Halysidota tessellaris
Tiger, Lichen and Wasp moth family, Arctiidae.  Feeds on a variety of woody plants.  The individual pictured above is missing most of its hairs, which are technically called setae.  We found one other Banded Tussock Moth caterpillar that was in a similar state.   The missing hairs might be caused by birds trying to eat them.

"Caterpillars of Eastern North America" by David L. Wagner