Friday, April 17, 2009
A Pretty Moth for a Slow Friday Night
I have trouble identifying moths but am quite sure this one is the Large Yellow Underwing, Noctua pronuba. It popped out of this wiry white plant (Oh! it's Calocephalus brownii, cushion bush. Thanks to a visit to Green Scene where I saw it for sale and luckily also labeled) in the late afternoon while I was poking around looking for mantids. Chances are fair it may have just emerged . . . the larvae overwinter as the fat caterpillars we call cutworms which can cause a lot of damage to plants. Like many moths they are taxonomically known by their pestiferousness, classed in the subfamily Noctuinae, cutworm moths in the larger family of owlet moths, Noctuidae. That's a lot of noct, which points to night, which is when moths are most active. This one flew off into the westering sun while I was looking, revealing its bright yellow underwings, hence the more appreciative common name for the adult phase of this creature.