Moths of Utopia
Here we start a rudimentary moth photo page. Doing the heavy lifting there are the words start and rudimentary. Most of the photos will be low-res and not fancy. The purpose is merely illustrative. Hopefully to give an idea of some of the moth diversity around Utopia. And maybe help someone put a name to something they saw.

I wanted a place to put my local moth photos so I could show, organize, and maybe even identify some of them. Names are given when I know what they are. Unknown types will have a photo date-based (mmddyy) reference number. Most will be the more common or eye-catching types more likely to be seen. This is not meant to be comprehensive, but more a grab-bag assortment of the 'most likely to bumble into without trying' types. They are broken into various related groups (often by family) below. Once it gets filled in a bit you might be able to at least place one you saw in the right group. The first step towards an identification.

Butterflies and moths are in the order Lepidoptera. Scale-winged insects. Their wings are covered in scales. Generally butterflies are diurnal, moths are nocturnal. However there are exceptions, one can get the occasional butterfly to come into a light at night. There are also a fair number of dayflying moths, several groups are mostly such. Butterflies have knobbed antennae, a little ball at the tip of each. Moths are often straight with no knob, or, feathered. Moths mostly hold wings open spread flat when perched, or along sides of body. Most butterflies hold them together over their back when perched. There are a number though that keep wings spread flat like moths, like Duskywings, which are brown like many moths as well. So it is hard to find hard fast rules without exceptions in separating them. The knob tipped antennae of the butterflies might be the most solid always works infallible most obvious distinction. Generally one might say butterflies are more colorful, and sure there are more brown and camo moths. But many moths are spectacular of colors and patterns.

The butterfly people often hang around flowers and might even drink a beer in the heat of the day waiting for something to fly in. The moth people stay up late watching lights, often involving UV, and various distilled spirits.

There are I think over a thousand species (1100?) of moths known from the Edwards Plateau of central Texas. Surely several hundred species are found locally. Most are what are called micros, as in micro-moths, the little tiny small ones, which I generally ignore. Way above my pay scale and micro-brain capabilities. I like the low-hanging fruit of big, pretty, and fancy.

This is just a start to get the page going. This first set of pix have mostly been used here before, but are scattered all over many pages. This begins the organization. Will be adding family names, binomials when known, and other info as we go.

If you see an incorrect ID I would really appreciate knowing, please don't hesitate to educate. We will try hard to not let that happen. I would also appreciate any ID's from the moth people. I have not gotten to the part of trying to identify most of them yet, save casual perusing of plates in Holland's 'Moths' book. Just like when I was 12.


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SILK MOTHS

This is a Luna Moth pumping up and drying out just after
emerging from pupae on Sept. 2, 2019. They are 4.5" across!



This is a mating pair of Luna Moth on Sept. 4, 2019.
They were on a big Pecan all day. Two days after above photo.



This is a Cecropia, one of America's fanciest silk moths.
Wingspan is about 5" and what a beauty! March 17, 2020.



Here is a pic of the Io Moth (Automeris io) that I picked up
at the gas station today, free with a fillup. August 13, 2021.
This is a male, females are browner of forewing, and of course you
do not see the amazing hindwing when wings closed as when on a wall.
These are amongst the smaller silk moths, just a couple inches across.




UNDERWING MOTHS

Underwing

An Underwing (Catocala sps.) moth, July 22, 2016



Underwing

One of the Catocala Underwing moths we have locally, probably C. obscura, or something similar. They are nearly invisible on tree bark. Some types have striking red, pink, or orange and black banded hindwings you see when they explode off a tree trunk, and names like Darling, Sweetheart, and Girlfriend. This is our most numerous one though, with dull boring brown hindwings you can just see the corners of. 060617. June 6, 2017




SPHINX MOTHS (aka Hawkmoths)

Walnut Sphinx Moth

Walnut Sphinx Moth is fairly regular locally. June 6, 2015



This is one of the Hummingbird Hawkmoths of the genus
Aellopos, and probably the species A. clavipes, July 11, 2021.
There are a few similar, but clavipes is the usual one.
They use front legs (pale) to steady themselves while nectaring.



clavipessphinxmoth

You can see why people insist the tail was feathers while
holding their fingers an inch apart asking what bird it was.
They are almost 2" long and wingspan is almost 3".
Same individual as above.



This is an Obscure Sphinx (Erinnyis obscura) moth.
The orange-red is the hindwing, only a bit of the base shows.
In normal perched posture the wings are closed over them.
Imagine trying to spot that on a tree trunk. October , 2020



Vine Sphinx on Sept. 28, 2019




DIURNAL MOTHS (dayflying)



White-tipped Black

There was a bit of an invasion of White-tipped Black
moths this past fall. They are LTA - less than annual, here.
Neat how I cut off one of the white tips on the White-tip.
Call for free tips on how to screw up photos. Nov. 13, 2016.



This is a Texas Wasp Moth (Horana panthalon texana),
a moth that mimics a wasp. Most folks, and more importantly
predators, would be hesitant to grab this harmless moth.
Oct. 6, 2020.



Disparete Forester

This is a Disparete Forester, Lost Maples, March 17, 2019. They are pretty fuzzy, especially the puffy orange leg bases.




Miscellaneous Assorted Moths

There were a bunch of these moths on the ground at the P.O. today.
032919. March 29, 2019



Lichen Moth

Lichen Moth (left) and a "micro" moth (R) of which there are hundreds of types here. I don't do micros, you have to draw the line somewhere.  :)   May 5, 2016



Bagworm

Bagworm. This is from a moth, the female is flightless and
lives in this bag. You might see these in trees along river.
Sept. 4, 2016



An unknown (as of yet to me) moth species, perhaps one of the owl moths.
072615. July 26, 2015



moth sps. 062919a, June 29, 2019. Maybe a little over a half-inch long.



Now we have a skeleton framework where I can process moth images and file, sort, and toss them here to organize.

We hope you enjoyed this wee peek at the tip of the iceberg of moth diversity here. If you see something unusual at your porch light, take a photo so there is some documentation for experts to argue over. In the world of insect records, unfortunately photos or it didn't happen is the rule. Except for when that is not enough and they need a specimen. Which is not all that uncommon either. So I will stick to the big, pretty, fancy, EASY ones.

The website theBugGuide is great for working on any insect ID. You can post pix and eventually some experts will see it and know what it is. Another popular place used for that is iNaturalist. Again, you can post pics, and experts will ID just about any bug you can throw at them.
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© M. and K. Heindel 2022
www.utopianature.com