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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.


Cindy said...

I chased one of those moths all over the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens a while back (while trying to take a picture). I love your shot of its wings flapping. I also love the word pestiferousness, and I only hope I will find an opportunity to use it myself soon!

Did you find any mantids? I'm seeing a few here and there.

vanessa cardui said...

I love the idea of you chasing that moth, Cindy. I was so lucky the way this one just popped out like that, posed for a few minutes, etc.

I had an oothecum hatch out recently so I know the little guys are in the vicinity, but darned if I've spotted any since a couple days after the event.

Moe said...

I've been trying my best to get moth pictures this Spring, but even if I leave the light on in the evening I can't seem to find any. Although I had many mantids last year, I have not seen any of them yet this year, either.

Great photos!