Subject: Some kind of butterfly?
Location: Near Saskatoon, SK, Canada
July 20, 2013 9:00 am
I stopped to take a photo of some small purple flowers, and this tiny insect just happened to be hanging out on one. It kind of looks like a butterfly, but the wing are rather unusual to me. Can you identify this bug for me?
This photo was taken this summer (mid July), in an old pasture that has gone partially back to native grasses.
Microlepidopterans, tiny moths, can be very difficult to identify, but since this is such a distinctive looking diurnal moth, we decided to give it a try. First we discovered Linnaeus’s Spangle-Wing on BugGuide, but your individual has more wing markings than that species. Then we found a very close match with Embola ionis on the Moth Photographers Group, and we thought we had your moth, but upon searching the family Heliodinidae on BugGuide, we realized there were other general with other similar looking species. BugGuide indicates the family can be identified because: “Members of the family Heliodinidae are metallic-colored, mostly diurnal moths.” Our top favorites for possible species include Neoheliodines cliffordi, which is pictured on BugGuide as well as on the Moth Photographers Group and Embola ionis, which is also pictured on BugGuide. Both of those species have a more northern range, and though neither is reported from Saskatchewan on BugGuide, both are reported from Minnesota.