Monday, August 26, 2013

Moth Night

Moth Night at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Queen Creek last Saturday night attracted not only thousands of insects, but a few dozen naturalists and photographers ranging in age from 4 to 80. Using a pair of mercury vapor lamps mounted in front of a white sheet, entomologists from the Central Arizona Butterfly Association led the crowd in a frenzy of bug identification and admiration. 

The star of the show was a single patient Western poplar sphinx, with its nearly six inch wingspan and thick furry body. Surrounding this moth were dozens of white-lined sphinx, cholla moths, silk moths, five-spotted hawkmoths, tiny variegated tiger moths, and a handsome rustic sphinx, all fluttering in the bright lights. 
Western Poplar Sphinx (Pachysphinx occidentalis)

Beetles clamored to the scene by the dozens, including june beetles, blister beetles, mesquite beetles and click beetles. Cicadas, grasshoppers and bright green katydids also showed up. My favorite were the ant lion adults, elegant beasts with long lacy gray wings, and a pair of gracefully curved, thick, glossy antennae. Close encounters with three species of snakes and dozens of bark scorpions shining under black lights made this a 5-star event worth repeating in our own back yard. Next frivolous purchase: a mercury vapor lamp.
Ant Lion Lacewing 

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