moths

Even after all these years of recording insects in our yard, it is still possible to discover a few new ones.

Take last week. I found this tiny caterpillar feeding on a Thurber's cotton leaf.

(I'm afraid the photograph is a bit blurry because it was a windy day.)

With a little research I found out it is the larva of the cotton leaf perforator moth, Bucculatrix thurberiella. The youngest caterpillars mine the leaves on the inside, creating tiny tunnels. When they get larger, they stay on the surface chewing out window panes of leaf tissue.

You can see photographs of the adult moth at Discover Life.

Am I worried about this caterpillar feeding on my plant?

Well, no. First of all the caterpillar is very small, and the plant is very big. Secondly, it is winter and the cotton plant is losing its leaves anyway. What difference does it make if a caterpillar takes a few bites before the leaf falls off?

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This is what the Thurber's cotton plant looked like earlier in the year:

You can see more at this related post about Thurber's cotton.

Let's take a look at a few moths in celebration of National Moth Week.

hummingbird-hawk-moth-flying(Photo via Visual Hunt)

Although moths are usually creatures of the night, it isn't unusual to see sphinx or hawk moths (Family Sphingidae) flying around flowers during the day. Some of the larger ones resemble hummingbirds in flight, hence their other common name "hummingbird moth."

moth-cerura-vinula(Photo via Visual Hunt)

How do you tell if the insect you are seeing is a butterfly or moth? The hairy body and feathery antennae are good clues.

Related:

moth-and-butterfly-books-for-children-list

See our list of children's books about moths and butterflies at Science Books for Kids.

Do you have any new suggestions for our list? Have you seen any interesting moths for moth week?

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Was it a twig or insect sitting on a black raspberry plant in our last Bug of the Week post?

geometrid-twig-good-0134

It was hard to tell, but this is a photograph of a looper or inchworm caterpillar (family Geometridae). In fact, because so many caterpillars in this family resemble twigs they are commonly called "stick caterpillars."

geometrid-caterpillar

When I approached, the caterpillar was moving in the typical looping fashion across the plant. I startled it when I stopped to take its photograph, and the caterpillar rose up and straightened. It held this position for as long as I watched it, which was several minutes.

If I hadn't seen the caterpillar moving prior to taking this stance, I probably wouldn't have even noticed it.

This caterpillar will eventually turn into a moth, making it an appropriate way to announce:

National Moth Week is coming up in the end of next month, July 23-31, 2016.

See if there are any National Moth Week events in your country or state.

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