Thursday, September 13, 2018

Windsor's Catocala Moths of Late August

After doing the late August butterfly event at Ojibway with the Essex County field naturalists - I couldn't help by try to procure a copy of the "moth field guide" by David Beadle [link]. Most naturalists would consider this as a 'mandatory' field guide - especially if you want to appreciate the huge bio-diversity that mothing can offer. As you might already know - two ways to attract moths into view include using a bright light and a white cotton sheet, and the other is to use a sugar solution on tree bark. This sugar solution brushed onto tree bark in forests is what attracts catocala species. This solution usually is made by mixing a ripe banana, brown sugar, beer and perhaps molasses.  Never pour all the beer into the sugaring solution.... because mothing can make a naturalist parched.

The underwing catocala moths are easy to be intrigued by. They are absolutely huge, colourful yet camouflaged, they offer some challenging photography and identification challenges and - its interesting to walk through a forest at night.  Below is a list of the underwing moths I've seen / photographed so far.  Speaking of photography - I took all of these photos using "ambient light". I might be the only moth photographer on earth who does not use a flash. These were taken by using a flashlight and using spot metering on an SLR camera at 3200 ISO.

Sweetheart Underwing
Darling Underwing
Widow Underwing
Sad Underwing (new for Canada [link])
Residua Underwing
Obscure Underwing
Yellow-gray Underwing
Yellow banded Underwing
The Penitent Underwing
Old wife Underwing
Ilia Underwing
Ultronia Underwing* (seen earlier in the summer in past mothing trips)
Locust Underwing  ** (not really a catocala genus moth)

I have to give thanks to local moth expert and retired science teacher Moe Bottus for allowing me to join him on a few walks in late August. I guess you could say he took me under his wing - (pun intended) to learn about the underwing moths. I hope I didn't *bug* him too much. One night we had went we had about 13 species but I did miss some in terms of photographing and thus identifying. One in particular that I think missed was the Once married Underwing. Some of these ID's were assisted by moth experts on Inaturalist.

I would like to get out mothing earlier in the year and see what other species can be found in Essex.  I might do a few more walks during late summer/ early fall to see if I can pick up a few more species. Paul Pratt produced an informative page about catocala moths at this link:

The Penitent - taken with cell phone

This is our list from one night of walking. Notice that Sad Underwing wasn't even on the expected list of Catocala species and was added below. Residua Underwing was seen as well and was omitted from this checklist by accident. 

Good Mothing!

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