Friday, March 4, 2011

Annaphila depicta ~ 03/04/11 ~ Pinnacles

a day-flying moth nectaring on California milkmaids
Annaphila depicta ssp. morula nectaring on Cardamine californica

When the first few Lepidoptera flew by me with their flashes of orange, I got excited believing I was seeing my first copper butterflies since returning to CA. Nope. It's a day flying moth! The official Pinnacles National Monument website is now including moths, instead of just butterflies. Great... except, as the PDF states, it's a work in progress. The only Annaphila they list is A. decia.

Here's a dirty little secret from my past life, I suck at identifying moths without a reference collection. So, I sent a picture to Chris Grinter of The Skeptical Moth this morning around 6:30am - gotta appreciate fellow bloggers who are up before the sun comes up. He promptly replied the following, "Love to see the moth photos. This is absolutely in the genus Annaphila (Noctuidae), and I'm comfortable calling it A. depicta. I could even take a stab at this being the subspecies 'morula' based on that pronounced brown bar on the forewing!" After comparing the very few photographs available online of Annaphila, I agree with his expert ID. Thank you, Chris!

I should mention these small moths were relatively abundant in what I affectionately term the "butterfly highway" at Pinnacles.

Plus, milkmaids were definitely the predominant blooming herbaceous perennials everywhere we hiked. Some looked more mustardy than milky. It looks like there are two varieties of C. californica (var. californica and var. cuneata) recorded from Pinnacles, but I wouldn't be able to tell you which is which or the difference.

ps - If you look closely at the second picture, there's a cute little beetle. Based on my other pictures of milkmaids, these beetles are quite abundant on this flower. However, I'm done with IDs for today.

pss 04/06/11 - Before I forget, Chris encouraged me to contact Paul Johnson of NPS. Paul and I had a couple of e-mail exchanges between March 6-9, 2011. He says he has 3 or 4 Annaphila on his Pinnacles moth list, but it's not updated and available to the public. Whether due to my e-mails or not, he did manage to catch a moth similar to the one shown above on March 7, 2011.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cute! And you are way ahead of me - if it was flying by day, I'd just assume it was a butterfly :-)