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Did you wonder what kind of moth was in the cocoon in the “another lacewing larva” post? I did and so I kept an eye on it. This week a brown moth emerged.

cabbage looper moth

It is a cabbage looper moth, Trichoplusia ni. Check out the punk look. Isn't that wild?

cabbage looper moth

I didn't muss this moth up, those are naturally arranged scales. It also has some white markings on it's wing.

The cabbage looper pupa is pale green with some brown marks on the back and it is hidden under a shield of white silk.

The cabbage looper caterpillar was bug of the week in an earlier post. It is a pale green caterpillar that loops when it walks.

Moths are often ignored because they are small, drab and are most active at night. But as you can see, if you look at them close up, they can be quite fascinating.

If you are interested in finding out more about moths, try:

Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard by John Himmelman

Ever wondered where something like “Bug of the Week” might lead? Sure it is fun, but can anything really useful come out of checking the insects in your back yard once a week? It turns out some very cool things can result from regular bug watching.

A few weeks ago when I was looking at the fruit flies in my yard, I found something I didn’t recognize. I sent it to a friend of mine at the University of Arizona to identify.
Take a look:

zaprionus fruit fly
When I looked through my camera lens I saw this fruit fly with incredible white stripes that almost glow florescent, they are so bright.

My friend identified it as Zaprionus indianus, a fruit fly native to Africa, the Middle East, southern Europe and southern Asia.  This species was first found in the Americas in 1998 when it was reported from São Paulo, Brazil. It just arrived in Arizona within the last year or so. I call it “Z” because of the genus name and its fancy zebra stripes.

zaprionus fruit fly

Here is a photo of Z under a powerful microscope:

zaprionus fruit fly

I’ll be keeping a good eye on Z to find out what it likes to eat and how many are around. Right now it hangs out with the other fruit flies in the compost heap.

You never know when you might meet some new insect neighbors, if you just go out and look.


Lacewings are pretty common in Arizona and I found another lacewing larva last week. (Check previous posts about the life cycle of lacewings).

lacewing larva

This lacewing was walking on the silk cocoon of a moth. You can just see the outline of the pale green moth pupa under the white strands of silk of the cocoon. I think the lacewing larva was trying to get inside, without much luck.

lacewing larva

See its long jaws? I think it might be the larva of a brown lacewing, rather than a green lacewing, because it looks a bit different. The brown lacewing adult has brown wings, hence the name.  They aren't as fragile-looking as the green lacewing and we tend to find them more often in the colder months.