Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Mystery moth

Mystery moth observed in the Wildflower Meadow on 9/4/10
Photo by Mike Freeman

Mike Freeman, a birder who lives near the north part of Central Park, writes:

Hi Marie,

I don't know much about moths, so I'm a little worried that you're going to tell me that this one (see above) is the most common moth in the world. I came across it in the Wildflower Meadow this Saturday. As best I can remember, it was around 3/4" long. Are you familiar with it?


Because the Moth Tree was taken down earlier this year we haven't done a lot of moth identifying in Central Park; I was afraid I might have lost my moth-identifying sea-legs. Luckily Mike's mystery moth is a very distinctive one that we have seen on a number of occasions in the past, always in flower gardens. So I was able to provide a positive ID.

It's an ARCIGERA FLOWER MOTH (Schinia arcigera), I wrote Mike, also double-checking my ID with an expert friend in Maine. She agreed. I also reassured Mike that his lovely little find is far from being a ho-hum moth, though not rare.

The first time the Central Park Mothers [rhymes with authors] saw an Arcigera Flower Moth they were in the little flower garden [near the Boathouse] that is unofficially called Charles's Garden. The date was August 27, 1998, and Charles Kennedy, the namesake of the garden, was there on that occasion. We had just begun our mothing adventures [I write about them in Central Park in the Dark] and had set up a black light in the northeast corner of the garden. The Arcigera was the highpoint of that evening.