What Are These Lepidopterans?
September 12, 2009
My younger son and I found this Lepidopteran sheltering on the underside of a petrol-pump in Pickens, Mississippi, today (09.12.09) in late afternoon (apx 17:00). We put it into a small container and brought it home to show to The Budding Naturalist, because we knew he would be fascinated. Its antenna are smooth-looking, but not clubbed, and its body is fat and stubby, white except at the very tip of the tail end, which is a coppery yellowish colour. At rest, its clear, blackish-brown margined wings are spread wide, and its silhouette is generally triangular, with a slight scallop to the lower edge of the wings. Also, when at rest, the tail end curves up and out. I’ve lived in the Mid-South all my life, and I have never seen a specimen like this one, and I’m not having any luck finding anything similar online. Can you help?I am also attaching a shot of what we think is Manduca quinquemaculatus (5-spotted hawkmoth) which my son reared from a caterpillar. (He is currently rearing several of these tomato hornworms that he saved from his Grandma’s garden–she wanted to smush it!)And a shot of what we think is a Synchlora aerata that showed up a few days ago on the siding of our front porch in Memphis, TN.
Editormum and the Bug Boys
Southern United States, MS and west TN
Dear Editormum and Bug Boys,
Your unidentified moth is a Melonworm Moth, Diaphania hyalinata. We have identified this moth in the past, but we were unable to remember its name, so we searched our archives until we found a posting from 2008. According to BugGuide: “Larvae feed on cucumber family plants: cucumber, melon, squash. Can be pests. Many generations (3?) in south, disperses northward in fall, does not persist there.” Your other identifications seem correct to us.