gorgeous orange moth
Tue, Jun 9, 2009 at 5:19 PM
This beauty appeared on the window screen of our maintenance facility this week (mid-June). It was there for the whole day, oblivious of photobugs (two-legged variety) and an occasional prod to determine whether it was alive (affirmative). The facility is the the midst of an oak-maple forest adjacent to an extensive salt marsh in northern Massachusetts. It was a warm sunny day. I was not able to make any headway in identification, probably because the wing pattern would be different when it opened its wings. I would love to know what it is — other than spectacular! Thanks.
Essex County, Massachusetts
First, we want to apologize for our tardy response, but we were away for a week and the emails really piled up in our absence. We are selecting letters to read based on the subject line, and we are spending way more time than we should in trying to post as many older emails (while being mindful of newly arriving emails) as possible. Sadly, many wonderful letters will go unanswered and many wonderful photos will go unposted because of time constraints. With that said, we were thrilled to open your letter. We believe this is a new species for our website, the Huckleberry Sphinx, Paonias astylus. We quickly matched it to photos posted to Bill Oehlke’s fabulous website. Bill Oehlke writes this: “Huckleberry Sphinx females call in the night flying males with an airbourne pheromone emitted from a gland at the posterior of the abdomen. Both sexes rest with wings parallel to the resting surface, with the upper lobes of the hindwings protruding above the forewings. The lower abdomen of the male arcs upward toward the head, while the abdomen of the female hangs strait down on a vertical surface. ” That would indicate that your specimen is a male due to the abdominal position. Oehlke also indicates: “Blueberry and huckleberry ( Vaccinium ), cherries ( Prunus ) and willows ( Salix ) are the favorites as larval foodplants. ” We are going to include Bill Oehlke in our response to you as he may request permission to use your photos on his website and also because your sighting is north of what is typical for the Huckleberry Sphinx.