Monday, June 23, 2014

A Light in the Dark Woods

On Saturday (21 June 2014) a group of seven Chippewa Valley Audubon club members met at Mission Creek Woodland Park for a new experience.


Moth hunting.

Call it whatever you want.

It involved standing around a sheet hanging from a line in the woods, lit by several 100 watt bulbs.

I often turn on my porch light with the purpose of attracting insects.  This is the first time I have ever done it with a group of people.
We turned our lights on at about 8:30PM (before the sun had set) and turned them off at 10:45PM (the park closes at 11:00PM).

In our 2 hours 15 minutes of mothing, we had a great time and saw a couple dozen moths as well as lots of other insects (beetles, flies, gnats, mosquitoes, etc.).

Most of the moths that came to the light were small and not easily identified.  We are still working on identifying most of them.

However, at about 10:35 a large moth flew in and fluttered around for more than a minute before finally settling on someone's boot.

It was a male Polyphemus (Antheraea polyphemus) Moth.

After letting everyone take several photos, I picked it up for a closer look.  You can tell it's a male based on the feathery antennae.   It uses these to sense pheromones that are released by the female.

After admiring it for a minute or two, I placed it on a nearby tree.

Even though we could not readily identify most of the moths and other insects that came to our light, the appearance of the Polyphemus Moth made everything worthwhile.

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