Sunday, July 24, 2011

silver-spotted tiger moth ~ 07/24/11 ~ at home

posted 08/11/11 - The verdict is in. I heard back from Paul Opler and Jerry Powell, authors of Moths of Western North America, and Chris Grinter of The Skeptical Moth, the CalAcademy entomologist who first suggested the caterpillars I found and raised were L. sobrina. They all agree this moth that pupated 05/01/11 and emerged 07/23/11 looks like L. argentata.

Here's what Chris had to say about it, "I had assumed it was sobrina based on location - Monterrey [sic] peninsula is the type locality of sobrina and where all of our specimens of are from. I have to dig into our rare book room with a librarian to find the original description, but I doubt it will help differentiate the two species being that it's form [sic] the late 19th century. But, if sobrina/argentata are separate then they are nearly identical moths and it might be the case that they can not be differentiated from external morphology alone (genitalia required). I am skeptical that both argentata and sobrina could both be in the same habitat on the same trees at the same time of year - just seems more likely that sobrina is not a true species! (or alternatively, argentata does NOT occur in coastal CA and all of the moths and caterpillars you have seen are sobrina)."

I believe he's going to dissect specimens from CalAcademy to clarify whether there are indeed two distinct species. Here's where collecting does have its uses. However, I released this female moth the day after these pictures were taken. I should have saved her for Chris to compare for his dissections. Sigh, I already felt badly for not releasing her the previous day when she emerged, because she beat herself up trying to escape overnight and there were scales everywhere. The curl at the end of her wings was from her resting at the bottom of the container when she hardened. All in all, she wouldn't have made the best specimen, although I don't know how intact pinned insects are after removing the genitalia.

Oh! The cocoon seen in the first picture is from another moth that began pupation 06/25/11. It still has not emerged. I'll have to go back and correct my caterpillar IDs. I'm adding a new label specifically for this moth; to see my rearing exploits, check out lophocampa.