Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Moth Tree Roundup

What is the moth tree? A quick repeat for new readers:

There's a scraggly English Oak just off the park's East Drive, between the Boathouse and the 72nd Street transverse, that oozes a pungent sap from various places on its bark. This sap, as it happens, is highly attractive to certain insects both day and night.

In the daytime, depending on the season, you'll find Bald-faced Hornets, Cicada-killer Wasps, Question-mark and Comma butterflies and some diurnal moths such as The Nessus Sphinx, slurping up the sap. After sunset the Underwing family of Moths, officially known as the Catocalas, arrive, among the most dramatic of our northeast moths. We have seen more than 20 species of Underwings at this single tree. [Last year we also had a historic visit from a Black Witch, the largest moth in North America.]

A small group of moth enthusiasts gather at the Moth Tree every night, armed with flashlights and the one existing moth field guide,[Covell] to enjoy the beauties of these dramatic creatures and to try to identify them.

Here are some recent visitors, Underwings and others:

Oldwife Underwing

The Darling Underwing - 9/3/06

Greater Black-letter Dart 8/31/06

Yellow-striped Armyworm Moth 8/31/06

Once-married Underwing- 9/1/06

All photos by M. Winn, taken with a Canon Powershot S 410, Digital Elph on a macro setting.