Monday, April 5, 2010

Good Morning, Maple

After seeing all those beetles on my maple tree last week, I’ve been a vigilant observer. And, boy, have my efforts been rewarded!

Can you see the moth in this photo? Its camouflage is amazing.

Look above and a little to the left of the peach-colored lichen. The moth has a fat, fuzzy head and thick, short wings. It is perched diagonally. Its had is facing right and its right wing is just above the lichen.

Do you see it?
It didn’t take me long to come up with a possible identification: a fall cankerworm moth, also known as Alsophila pometaria. Here’s why:

—They live in Massachusetts.
—They overwinter as adults.

—They like maple trees and other hardwoods. And when I say like, what I really mean is they like to eat them. Yikes!

Here's a photo where you can see a fall cankerworm moth more clearly. The wings of this moth look just about right, but then I looked at the head. My moth had a large, fuzzy head. But the fall cankerworm's is pretty puny. And that's good news.

So I kept on searching, and came across this photo. Do you see all three of the sphinx moths in this image? It isn't easy.

These moths are gray and they have fuzzy heads. Their proportions are just right too.

BUT their wings have some black zigzags, and my moth doesn't. So I'm not willing to commit, especially because the sphinx moths I've seen are pretty large. Larger than my moth.
After hours of scouring fields guides and the Internet, I have to admit that I'm stumped.

If you have any ideas, please let me know.

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