Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Day 3 Moth Week: Harris's Three-spotted Moth
This cool moth was clinging to our stoop door the other night in the rain. It's one of the prettier, more detailed moths that I've seen just "hanging out." And it's amazingly common. But it took National Moth Week to motivate me enough to actually research it.
It also took me nearly an hour of perusing the awesome site BugGuide.net to ID it, but the fact that I was even able to ID it is pretty impressive. Must make a note to send a donation to BugGuide; they're fabulous.
Getting back to this intricately patterned moth... from various Googling activities, it seems the Harris's Three-spot (Harrisimemna trisignata) is a type of Dagger Moth, breeding in hardwood forests. Unfortunately, I didn't find a whole lot of info on this moth, but the reference to its "bird poop-like" larva of course lured me to Google that. Immediately prompting an "eeks!" when I saw it (you've been forewarned). Holy cow. How does that turn into this? Amazing.
I did learn that the bizarre pose of the Harrisimemna trisignata is its typical alarm posture. What critter wouldn't find that threatening and leave it alone? And, if you don't leave it alone? Apparently there is a gland that secretes nasty scents on its lower abdomen (hence the rearing).
Well, now I know more about the larva than the moth. Still, pretty cool to learn new things. Thanks National Moth Week! (follow the fun at #NMW2012 and #NationalMothWeek)
(And many thanks to the Entomological Society of Washington for publishing their proceedings. Much of the info on the larva was gleaned from their papers.)