Subject: Pondside Pyralid moth
Location: Mancelona, MI
June 27, 2014 7:15 pm
Dear awesome people whom I adore,
Would you like a bunch of already-identified moths for your archives? I’m currently taking a field course in Animal Ecology in northern lower Michigan, and the area is just crawling with all sorts of wonderful moths. So I’ve been spending most of my free time id-ing moths. And because you’re awesome people I’d like to pass some of them on to you–particularly moths that you don’t seem to have archived yet. I’ll send them as separate emails for ease of sorting. First up (unless you’d rather not have them), this lovely Pondside Pyralid Moth (Elophila icciusalis). I didn’t take measurements (I’m sorry! Moths are hard to measure when they’re flocking around lamps in hopes of finding true love!), but according to Bugguide their wingspan is 16-26 mm.
(I tried to send this a minute ago but it didn’t want to go; if this is a duplicate email, I apologize!)
Interestingly, we formatted all of your submissions in the inverse order that you sent them, but that means that folks who visit our site today will actually read them in the correct chronological order. We have already addressed some issues that you bring up. We greatly appreciate all your research. We know how much time that takes, especially with smaller moths. Even identification to the family level is sometimes very labor intense. According to BugGuide, the Pondside Pyralid Moth is somewhat unique in that “larvae are aquatic; adults found near larval habitat, and are attracted to light.” BugGuide elaborates with “larvae feed on aquatic plants such as buckbean, duckweed (Lemna spp.), eelgrass, pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.), and sedges” and “Larvae and pupae protect themselves in a case made of plant material.” Thanks again for filling gaps in our archive with your wonderful images. Now that we have posted all of your submissions, we can respond to one of those paranoid requests with blurry images, most of which do not get posted.
Thank you so much for the kind words, and for posting my pictures! I’ll keep sending them, but at a slower rate. About the difficulty of identifying moths–oh my goodness, yes. However, I’ve found an absolutely invaluable tool for that. Discover Life has an extensive moth id guide, which you can browse by state or at the level of the whole country. It allows you to select your moth’s characteristics (primary color, wing shape, size, pattern, etc.) so you can narrow it down considerably–and if there’s less than a hundred results you can do a side-by-side comparison. They’ve got guides for dragonflies/damselflies/skimmers, caterpillars, and a whole lot of other things as well! While it may not be perfect or completely comprehensive, it’s been a lifesaver anyway.
Thanks for the tip Helen. We like hearing about new resources for insect identification.