Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Update on Moth

My guess that my moth photo in today's regular blog entry was a Polyphemus moth was wrong. The correct identification is even cooler and rarer.

My moth is a Black Witch moth, normally a native in the tropics of Mexico and also in our southern states. However, this moth, which is often mistaken for a bat, as I did initially, has been seen at least occasionally in every state in the U.S., including Alaska (once near Auke Bay near Juneau).

I've submitted the record to a couple of moth and butterfly sites. Nina on BugNet has confirmed that this is a Black Witch. I'm still hoping the record will be officially accepted as the first York County record. The moth has been recorded in Allegheny County, and I have to wonder if that record came from the famous moth guy A.J. Holland, who worked at the Carnegie Institute back in the early 20th Century, and wrote what is still my favorite moth book, The Moth Book. (Gotta love that title!)

Thanks to Seabrooke at The Marvelous in Nature for correcting me on this identification. I simply wasn't looking at species that are normally found outside this area as a possible choice. Heaven knows, I had enough choices as it was without looking for moths from the tropics.

The Black Witch moth has a lot of interesting, if somewhat creepy, folklore associated with it, and tomorrow I'll tell you a little bit about some of that.

Thanks again, Seabrooke!

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