In the Cool of the Night

All photos here are by Pat Sutton.

Pat & Clay Sutton regularly hang “gooey” fruit in a dish in their backyard in Goshen (Cape May Co) to attract both butterflies and moths — and the last week has brought a bonanza. Pat reports red admirals, question marks, eastern comma, tawny emperor, little wood-satyr, common wood-nymph, and twenty-three (!) red-spotted purples coming to it by day.

And check out this amazing selection of nocturnal visitors:

A mix of white-specks (Mythimna unipuncta), at least two species of underwings (Catolaca, sp), and other species, identified by Pat, Tony Leukering, and Mike Crewe.

Ultronia underwing, Catocala ultronia.

Nessus sphinx moth, Amphion floridensis.

If you are up for the mind-boggling challenge of moth ID (with eight to ten times the diversity of butterflies), some helpful sources include:

*** A new field guide, published just this April, The Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America by David Beadle and Searooke Leckie, featuring 1500 species in natural resting poses (not spread specimens) with seasonality and range maps for most, as they are currently understood.

*** Tony Leukering’s new blog, The Moths of Cape May County with lots of photos and sketches of the species currently on the wing.

*** The Moth Photographers Group, a site hosted by the Mississippi Entomological Museum at Mississippi State University, with a wealth of photographs, range maps, and other info.

*** An upcoming local celebration of National Moth Week, organized by Jamie Cromartie at Stockton College and Parker Preserve, details here.

*** And another local celebration of the Week, organized by Shawn Wainwright at Cattus Island, details here.

The diversity of nocturnal lepidoptera might be intimidating, but especially with the current heat wave under way, you have to admit chasing moths could be a lot cooler than chasing butterflies, literally, if not figuratively.


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