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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Moth Matters

I see these small black and white moths often during summer, and they are almost always perched on the underside of a leaf or flower petal with their head just protruding as in these two photos. When I first noticed them in the garden (3 or so years ago) I got a preliminary ID as the waterlettuce stem borer, named as most moth species are in the vernacular for the proclivities of their larvae. I remember thinking this was weird since it was difficult to imagine a nearby source of waterlettuce to support a population of this moth. But moths are difficult to identify and mysterious in general so I just shrugged and didn't worry too much about it.

Others did worry, and over at Bugguide and Arthropods of OC arrived at another identification: Glyphodes onychinalis, with no common name so far that I could find. It's an import from Indonesia/Australia found in California since 2000. Its larvae are said to feed on nerium oleander and jasmine (possibly the writer means trachelospermum jasminoides, commonly called star jasmine and also in the Apocynaceae family?). Both oleander and star jasmine are abundantly grown in this area, but not in my garden. I'll be checking some other people's plants to see if any caterpillars are present.

A very pretty little moth often found to be active during the day, seen here on waxleaf privet (ligustrum japonicum) (top photo) and blue hibiscus (alyogyne huegelii) (bottom photo); maybe a bit of a pest for commercial landscapes dense with nerium oleander, trachelospermum jasminoides and possibly other related species.

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