Journal archives for August 2021

August 11, 2021

Identification tips for distinguishing between Cyclophora myrtaria (Waxmyrtle Wave) and Cyclophora packardi (Packard's Wave)

The illustrations below show the key features for separating these two similar species.

RANGE: With the exception of a few apparent extralimital records, C. myrtaria is restricted to the coastal plain regions of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts (US), while C. packardi is widespread throughout the eastern US.

UPDATE: C. myrtaria is now included in the iNat Computer Vision model as of the 12-Apr-2022 update.

Additional resources:
BOLD page for C. myrtaria
BOLD page for C. packardi



Additional Images for Comparison

Cyclophora packardi

Cyclophora myrtaria

Posted on August 11, 2021 02:24 PM by johntrent johntrent | 2 comments | Leave a comment

August 15, 2021

Notes on Pelochrista fraudabilis in Alabama

Pelochrista fraudabilis is a moth in the family Tortricidae (Tribe Eucosmini) found in the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plain regions of the eastern US . Online resources (Bug Guide | MPG | BOLD) show few scattered records from New Jersey south to Florida in June and July. Heinrich (1923) details multiple individuals in North Carolina collected in June and July. Gilligan and Wright (2013) provide a more in-depth review of the species, showing distribution from New Jersey to Louisiana, with flight times from late May—mid-August.

Over the past four years at my primary survey site in Bullock County, Alabama I have found this species to be an uncommon but regularly encountered species during the summer months. Below are a few notes from my observations on seasonal flight times and habitat for this species.

Due to the apparent rarity of the species throughout its range, I have made it a priority to photograph and submit an observation to iNaturalist for each nightly encounter in order to add as many data points as possible. While I haven't kept track of total numbers for each encounter, there have only been a few times where more than one was seen, with no more than 2 (at most 3?) on any given night.

To date I have photographed 27 individuals (plus one from another observer at the survey site) ranging from May 24-Aug 16. Peak flight period occurs in July, specifically the second half of July (although increases in survey effort during National Moth Week likely has influenced total observations during late July).

Screen Shot 2021-08-15 at 5.26.01 PM

Habitat at the Bullock County survey site consists of several hundred acres of mature pine savannah, with dense herbaceous understory (See photo below). The dominant canopy trees consist of Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata) and Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda). The area is burned regularly with prescribed fire on a two-year rotation, encouraging numerous species of grasses and herbacous plants in the understory. As I'm not currently aware of the habitat other specimens have been found in, no comparisons can be made.


In the future I'd like to focus sampling effort in other areas nearby in similar habitat to better understand the species' distribution in Alabama. No other locations have reported this species to iNaturalist yet—but based on these findings, areas of similar habitat would be worth checking in late July for at least a 2-3 consecutive nights as this species does not appear to be abundant even during peak flight times.

Posted on August 15, 2021 11:51 PM by johntrent johntrent | 1 comment | Leave a comment

August 19, 2021

Notes on an undescribed species of Lithacodia in Alabama

This note summarizes observations of an undescribed species in the genus Lithacodia (Family Noctuidae) in Alabama, particularly at the Wehle Land Conservation Center in Bullock County where I regularly encounter this moth. The few details available on this moth (to my knowledge) can be found on BugGuide (including link to survey results in NC) as well as specimens listed on BOLD.

Over the past 4 years I've photographed individuals encountered on a nightly basis throughout the season and upload those photos to iNaturalist in order to get a better handle on flight times. To date, individuals have been documented on 53 nights from 7 April—24 September, 2018-2021 (see chart below). I haven't kept nightly counts—however I typically will find 1-2 on an average night if present, with at most 3-4 observed on a given night. There appears to be potentially two main flights in spring and summer (with a lull in June).

Lithacodia n sp

The vast majority of encounters (approximately 90%) at the Bullock County site have been found at one location. The light trap at this site is located at a building on a small sandhill upland, bordered by a natural seepage drain that flows into a nearby pond (see photo below). The seepage habitat does contain Arundinaria sp. (river cane) which has been reported as a potential characteristic of preferred habitat.

Undescribed Lithacodia Habitat, Bullock County, Alabama

One other record in Alabama has been recorded in Randolph County by @a24 on May 19, 2020. @kbakkegard, @xylochic627, and @jeffgarner have also contributed images of this undescribed species observed at the Bullock County site. A list of my personal observations can be found here

Thanks to @kyhlaustin for helping me figure out this ID initially

Additional Observations on iNaturalist

NC —
GA —

Posted on August 19, 2021 07:44 PM by johntrent johntrent | 3 comments | Leave a comment