One evening at the end of July, I went out to get the mail and met a beautiful pink and yellow moth resting on an evening primrose flower by the mailbox.
I guessed that it was one of the 126 or so species of “flower moths” in the genus Schinia (Noctuidae; not to be confused with members of the family Scythrididae, which are also known as “flower moths”). Browsing through the species on BugGuide.net, I arrived at a clear match: Schinia florida, whose larvae are known to feed on evening primrose flower buds. Unfortunately, someone has given this species the common name “primrose moth,” despite the fact that evening primroses (Onagraceae: Oenothera) have nothing to do with primroses (Primulaceae: Primula).
The next evening I encountered what I took to be the same moth resting on a different flower, but comparing the photos now, I see that it was a different individual with less distinct yellow stripes within the pink area.
I kept an eye on the plant for signs of these moths’ offspring, and two weeks later I spotted this caterpillar, which had bored a hole into a bud and was busily converting the unopened flower into a pile of yellow mush behind it.
This caterpillar had been busy.
There is plenty of evening primrose to go around, and I certainly don’t mind losing a few flowers later in the season if it means I get to have these moths around.