Monthly Archives: March 2014

Fifty Species Goal: #10 – 14

By | Insects, Stuff In My Yard | No Comments

A very exciting few days here! (Well, for me. I don’t know about the rest of you. Those of you who aren’t excited about bugs, probably not.)

More moths!

#10 — Melanolophia signataria  Signate Melanolophia

#11 — Zale lunata   Lunate Zale


This is a rather large, very handsome moth, a member (if the internet is correct) of the Owlet Moth Tribe. I love that there is an Owlet Moth Tribe and wish to write stories about them.

#12 — Protoboarmia porcelaria  Porcelain Gray

#13 — Acleris maculidorsana  Stained-back Leafroller

And #14 isn’t a moth at all, but the awesome little native plant Chimaphila maculata, or “Spotted Wintergreen.” My photos don’t look like much, but it’s a dark, waxy green leaf with a thick white midrib and red stems. I found it on a dry embankment by the driveway, where it passes through pine trees. Unfortunately for my ambitions, it transplants very poorly–it’s a symbiote with soil fungus, and if the fungus isn’t present or is disrupted too badly, it won’t take. It’s as common as it gets in the Piedmont in the Carolinas, but rare and occasionally endangered everywhere else. I am enormously honored to have some in the yard.

Meanwhile, in the garden things are coming up, usually several feet from where I thought they were planted, and the goldfinches have turned that mangy yellow color that they get before they manage to molt all the way to gold.

Fifty Species Goal: #4-9

By | Insects | No Comments

Wow! An awesome run of species ID, here in the House ‘o Squash.

I’ll spare you the photos of all of them, since they’re six moth species, ID’d by the nice people at ( If you’re bug sensitive, sit this one out–these are moths, not too scary, more like bits of fuzzy origami, but still.)

#4: Eutrapela clemataria Curved-Toothed Geometer

#5: Phoberia atomaris  Common Oak Moth

#6: Acleris flavivittana  Masked Leafroller

#7: Pyreferra hesperidago   Mustard Sallow


Check out his awesome lines!


#8: Iridopsis larvaria  Bent-Lined Gray (Is Iridopsis not a lovely word?)

#9: Cladara limitaria  Mottled Gray Carpet


I’m a wedge!


All these moths were attracted to the porch light over the last few warm nights. I am getting in the habit of going out and taking photos (then turning off the porch light, so they can get on with their lives.)

Kevin will occasionally take the dogs out and then inform me there’s a moth I might be interested in. He is a good husband.

If you have the option, I cannot stress highly enough the awesomeness of taking moth photos–it’s super easy, the bugs come to you, you submit them to, they ID them and it helps build a map of what species are found where. I am often appalled by how little information we have–I’ve literally been the person to submit every moth sighting (except one Luna month) listed for my county. Some of the things that have shown up in my garden are the only one that have ever been listed in the state. It’s not that I’m in the middle of a wildlife haven (although I try) it’s that there’s just no information. And some of this stuff could be really important! If a warm-weather pest extends its range northward because nights are getting warmer earlier, we need to know that stuff!

I’m using an iPhone 5 camera, no specialized equipment.

Species #2 Eastern Comma & #3 Saw Greenbriar

By | My Garden, Stuff In My Yard | No Comments

Yay! Two new species for my Fifty Species Goal!

Things have been a bit slow since it’s been freezing here, but fortunately I added two species this week, so I’m feeling a little more on track. (More imporantly, moths are beginning to congregate around the porch light, and that’s usually a bonanza!)

Species #2: Eastern Comma


This butterfly showed up very early this year, before any of the others. I was afraid we’d lose them to the ice storms, but fortunately, they seem to have stuck around. The Eastern Comma is nearly identical to the Question Mark and I can tell the difference only by relative size (Commas are smaller) and our local Question Marks tend to have much darker hindwings. Question Marks are common visitors to the garden, being fond of damp earth/gravel/mulch and (sigh) dog poop. The Comma, however, is new.

Species #2: Saw Greenbriar


This pointy, stabby climbing vine is one of the vast Smilax clan–Smilax bona-nox, to be precise. It is currently infiltrating my tea camellia. I don’t know how I feel about that. (Apparently they are super-duper edible with the new shoots and the tubers and all, but foraging is a little outside of my comfort zone.)

Smilax glauca was a known quantity in my garden, but S. bona-nox only showed up last fall, and I only got around to digging in and figuring out what it was today. So that’s kinda neat!


See also: Species #1: Blue-Headed Vireo