WDEL Blog: Eclectic Hobbies with Allan Loudell

One of the most beautiful Eastern U.S. moths seen on a Bear-area gas station pillar

Stopping for gas at an Exxon station along Route 273 this morning (a couple of blocks east of Route One), I noted a sphinx moth resting on a pillar next to one of the pumps. From afar, I assumed it to be one of our drabber brownish Sphinx moths. I was mistaken. It was the Pandora (or Pandorus) Sphinx moth which I've seen several times in south Jersey and Maryland but never in Delaware, and never at such a built-up suburban location.

The Luna Silkmoth probably takes the prize as America's most beautiful moth - instantly recognizable, as Monarchs are to butterflies. But I certainly consider the Pandorus (a much darker green) to be one of our most eye-catching moths, certainly among the Sphinx, and with an incredibly intricate pattern.

August is an interesting time for butterflies and moths: Not necessarily the greatest numbers of individuals or species, but an interesting mix. You get both fading mid-summer species and immigrants from further south. With butterflies, this is the time the showy big species -- Swallowtails (Eastern Tiger, Spicebush, Black, & Zebra) and Monarchs -- are all flying.

During a road trip last week to south Florida, I achieved several "lifers" -- butterflies I had never seen before -- the magnificent black, orange and iridescent sky blue-green Atala and the Mangrove Skipper. I easily photographed Atalas, but could not get to the Mangrove. Also first-time photographs (for me) of the Large Orange Sulphur.

And if you're into butterfly houses - if you happen to find yourself in Florida -- the tropical display at the University of Florida in Gainesville has one of the best offerings I've seen. Many butterfly houses rely primarily on intensely-colored Heliconian butterflies and Morphos (Primarily New World species of the Americas). They're beautiful, but Gainesville also housed a good number of colorful, intricately patterned species from Africa and southeast Asia.

Posted at 1:24pm on August 8, 2012 by Allan Loudell

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