Location: Douglas and Jackson counties, Oregon
May 9, 2012 9:59 pm
Hello bugman, I’ve seen these guys hanging around puddles in southern Oregon but have not found them anywhere in my guidebooks. Any idea what kind of butterfly these are?
You may have encountered difficulties in your attempts to identify this creature because it is not a butterfly. It is a diurnal moth. We did a web search for “diurnal moth Oregon” and found a photo on a FlickR forum Discussing ID Help Line in Field Guide: Butterflies & Moths of North America where it was identified as the Western White-ribboned Carpet Moth (Mesoluca gratulata). BugGuide has a page on the Western White Ribboned Carpet Moth and states: “adults fly during the day mostly in early spring (February-April), with a few late stragglers until mid-June.”
I was fooled a bit by some of the other pictures I had taken of these bunch of moths…in the photos their wings were upright so I presumed they were butterflies. I probably caught them in mid-flit and, as a rank amateur, made the wrong presumption. Thanks once again for your help, I really appreciate it.
These Western White Ribboned Carpet Moths are easily mistaken for butterflies if you use the reductive differentiation methods most commonly mentioned including that butterflies fly in the day and moths fly at night and that butterflies rest with wings aloft and moths rest with wings flat. Those generalizations fit most butterflies and moths but not all of them.