Mystery [moth] solved
photo by Lincoln Karim
at the Moth Tree
Last night [7/14/05] at the Moth Tree, the Mystery Moth arrived again. It settled on the Moth Tree at a much lower spot this time, and raptly fed on a large patch of oozing sap. It didn't look exactly the same --not so dark, nor did it have the same blue-green sheen to it. But when I shone my extra-bright new flashlight on the moth I could make out patches of that same extraordinary color you can see in Lee Stinchcomb's sketch posted yesterday.
A few minutes later help arrived in the person of Lincoln Karim. He had his camera with him and photographed the Mystery Moth as I shone the flashlight beam on the creature. He e-mailed me the picture very early this morning [the guy must have insomnia] and some of that color was still visible. I don't know if my fellow non-maternal Mothers agree with me, but I think the moth Lincoln photographed was, indeed, the same one that mystified us the day before. I think the amazing new flashlight somehow brought out latent colors not visible previously, even to the author of the Field Guide to Moths.
And what did the Mystery Moth turn out to be? An ILIA UNDERWING. A very variable, very easily misidentified, and very, very common moth. And to think that I and at least one of my mothing companions spent much of the day yesterday searching through pictures of moths on the internet, hundreds and hundreds of pictures, trying to find a moth with a blue-green sheen.