Sunday, September 18, 2005

ENV: Observations

Early this a.m. i found a new moth (for me) on the blacklight sheet. It was a very attractive inch-long moth. The body and interior of the wings were pearly iridescent, the wings somewhat transparent and outlined in metallic golden brown.

As i moved the camera within about a half-inch of the bug i noticed something odd through the viewfinder. From the end of its abdomen there was a pom-pom of metallic flattened-looking fibers or hairs, all of them rather rhythmically waving about -- almost a pulsing action to them. In addition the bug was waving its abdomen from side to side while raised high. It had the appearance of a bunch of folks all waving their hands over their heads at some emo concert.

Unfortunately i didn't have the DV camera with me to film this, but i did get some short stuttery clips on the digital still camera. And took a lot of photos of course. From the ones below and those i've archived you can see some of the side to side action, but of course, none of the fascinating movement that occurred with it.

With some effort i think i have this bug IDed as Diaphania hyalinata. This is also known as the Melonworm Moth and it is apparently a significant pest of zucchini, cucurbits and melons at times. I also found out via the net that its pheromones have been much studied, at least partly in an attempt to find attractants that would lead it to traps, that it has a Tachinid fly parasite, and that pest management sites all use/quote exactly the same press release from somewhere. What i didn't find was any mention of this behavior.

I suspect that it has something to do with the pheromones of this Pyraulid, but whether by this action it is releasing pheromones, raking the air to detect them, doing both simultaneously, or something not even related, is beyond me. Very cool nonetheless.

Melonworm Moth, Diaphania cf. hyalinata

More photos here

Other Observations, 18 September 2005 TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista

30 American Rubyspot
2 Smoky Rubyspot
100 Dusky Dancer
60 Blue-ringed Dancer
2 Powdered Dancer
2 Black Saddlebags
1 Red Saddlebags
1 Wandering Glider

1 Giant Swallowtail
1 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Cloudless Sulphur
1 Gulf Fritillary

1 Great Horned Owl
8 Eurasian Collared-Dove (in Ingram)
4 White-winged Dove
2 Mourning Dove
4 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
1 Northern Cardinal

1 Striped Skunk
1 Feral Cat
20 White-tailed Deer
30 Axis Deer

Pieces of Peacocks

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