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HumBug: A Moth of Another Color

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A nocturnal moth I believe to be Panthea virginarius portlandia or a close relative. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A nocturnal moth I believe to be Panthea virginarius portlandia or a close relative.

When I think the word “moth” I think of something gray. To be sure there are brightly colored day fliers, but the nocturnal majority are gray or brown, patterned to blend in with tree bark where they rest during the day. One of the things that makes moth identification challenging is that there are often different versions of the same species. This can be important.


Genus Enypia... Nocturnal - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Genus Enypia... Nocturnal

In England there are two different varieties of the peppered moth, one darkly patterned and a lighter version. Specimens taken from before the Industrial Revolution were predominantly the lighter type. Following the heavy burning of coal, which produced soot which blackened tree bark (and everything else outdoors), the darker type became predominant. Following the cleaning up of the exhaust, the lighter kind made a resurgance. Presumably the lighter ones were better concealed from predatory birds when the tree bark was cleaner and the darker were a better match on dirtier trees. This study and conclusion was at one time refuted, and has since been reinstated as a sterling example of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution.
Genus Habrosyne, nocturnal. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Genus Habrosyne, nocturnal.

Not only is this an example of evolution in action but it shows that mankind's actions in the world effect wild populations in subtle ways. I wonder how many species of moth have had their lives disrupted such that their lines were extinguished merely by front porch lights and street lights left on overnight.

The day-flying ornate tiger moth. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The day-flying ornate tiger moth.
From the preponderance of light-colored moths I've found lately, I gather our air quality is pretty good.
Genus Herpetogramma, nocturnal. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Genus Herpetogramma, nocturnal.

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