Spring Moth

You may recall that last spring I found a sawfly larva eating a distinctive pattern in a black cherry leaf, and was going to try to raise it.  Well, on June 17 I noticed a tiny inchworm (about 2.5 mm long) that had apparently hatched from an egg I hadn’t noticed when I’d collected the leaf a week earlier.  Here it is alongside the sawfly larva and its droppings:

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And a closer view:

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On June 21, it had grown to about 4.2 mm:

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On June 25, it had grown to 8.5 mm, and had darkened considerably.  Here you can see its leaf-skeletonizing feeding pattern.

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By June 30, it had reached a length of about 16 mm, and had developed some longitudinal stripes.

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It had also developed some distinctive markings on its face:

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A few days later, it disappeared into a jar of soil I had offered it.  Today, I found the adult moth fluttering in the jar.

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It is, as expected, a “white spring moth” (Lomographa vestaliata)–perhaps the most nondescript of all moths, but a welcome sign of spring nonetheless.  Maybe accidentally raising a moth when attempting to raise a sawfly will become an annual tradition.

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Although this moth had been exposed to indoor temperatures for a month or so, and may have emerged earlier than it otherwise would have, I saw another geometrid (inchworm) moth fluttering around my yard two days ago: “the infant” (Archiearis infans).  It was right next to a paper birch, which is one of the larval food plants.  I couldn’t have gotten a shot of it even if I’d had a camera with me, but here is the last photo I took of one–on April 24, 2004.  When they’re flying, you mostly see the orange hind wings, and they give the impression of little butterflies.

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About Charley Eiseman

I am a freelance naturalist, endlessly fascinated by the interconnections of all the living and nonliving things around me. I am the lead author of Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates (Stackpole Books, 2010), and continue to collect photographs and information on this subject. These days I am especially drawn to galls, leaf mines, and other plant-insect interactions.
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2 Responses to Spring Moth

  1. Sue Cloutier says:

    Again, nice info and two spring moths!

  2. Annie Runyon says:

    Cool! Those two moths are lovely! The white spring moth may be non-descript… but how beautiful it is!

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