Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Central Park Moth-ers return

Ilia Underwing - partially open

Former Girlfriend -- closed
Photos by Marie Winn

The so-called Moth Tree, an English Oak that periodically oozes moth-attractive sap, is back in business. On Sunday, 7/9/06, between 8:30 and 10 pm, a host of moths in the Catocala family, beautiful creatures with cryptic forewings and dramatically colored hind wings, could be seen fluttering around its lower branches and then settling in to feast on the sap.

Not much diversity yet-- almost all the large moths were Ilia Underwings, a common species with bright orange and black hind wings. [See the list of Underwings we've seen in previous years, at end, to see what might lie ahead. And also to enjoy their names.] But there was one other species of particular interest. Also in the Catocala family, it is a little moth that used to have the charming name of Girlfriend Underwing --Catocala amica. Since that was its identification in the one and only field guide to Moths that exists in English *, by the one and only Charles V. Covell, naturally that's the name the C.P. Moth-ers have always called it. But recently Covell has had his book republished. Now in a new preface to the same old text he provides a long list of corrections he has accumulated over the years. Among them is the former Girlfriend Underwing. Covell had misidentified it. Now, alas. the glamorous Girlfriend has metamorphosed into the mundane Little-lined Underwing-- Catocala lineela. Sic transit gloria mundi.

* There is a French field guide -- Le Guide des Papillons du Quebec that includes most of the moths we see in Central Park.

The Underwings of Central Park

1. [former]Girlfriend Underwing Catocala amica

[Now] Little-lined Underwing Catocala lineela

2. Ultronia Underwing Catocala ultronia

3. Little Underwing Catocala minuta

4. Widow Underwing Catocala vidua

5. Sad Underwing Catocala maestosa

6. Yellow-gray Underwing Catocala recta

7. Tearful Underwing Catocala lacrymosa

8. White Underwing Catocala relicta

9. The Betrothed Catocala innubens

10. The Little Wife Catocala muliercula

11. Oldwife Underwing Catacola Palaeogama

12. Habilis Underwing Catocala habilis

13. Yellow-banded Underwing Catocala cerogamma

14. The Bride Catocala neogama

15. Clouded Underwing Catocala nebulosa

16. Youthful Underwing Catocala subnata

17. Ilia Underwing Catocala ilia

18. Locust Underwing Euparthenos nubilis

19. Once-married Underwing Catocala unijuga

20. The Penitent Catocala piatrix

21. The Sweetheart Catocala amatrix

22. Darling Underwing Catocala cara