May 20, 2022

Catching up

This was a long, cold winter, with a lot of snow. The avian 'usual suspects' were around all winter, but it seemed to me as is if the populations were less than normal (I've been going to the same area for a few years now). This is a subjective assessment - they may have been at more reliable food sources. I don't know.

Spring migration this year (May/22) has been extended due to a cold, wet spring. I have concerns about the insect eating species, as the ground has been frozen until about three weeks ago. I see very few insects about, and the trees/shrubs are only starting to put out leaves. There are swallows over the river, but I'm not sure what they would be eating. This is also a flood year, so if bank swallows stay, it will be a while before they find nesting sites on the Red River banks. Much of the soil in which insects might have overwintered are now under water, and have been for a week or two.

On the few warm, sunny, days we have had, I've seen one or two small Mourning Cloak butterflies, a few flies and one beetle (which flew off before I could photograph it!), but not much else. Dismal.

Posted on May 20, 2022 16:59 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 08, 2021



Posted on December 08, 2021 20:57 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 06, 2021

Graphiphor augur

Graphiphora augur

A very drab moth, Often missing lines and orbicular spot. However, the posterior reniform black spot is usually conserved. Even with beaten up moths, that spot is still visible.

Photo Courtesy of CBIF

Posted on December 06, 2021 20:40 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 1 comment | Leave a comment

September 04, 2021

Egira dolosa

Often hard to identify. This is an early flying moth. The white stripe that runs from orbicular to orbicular (when the wings are closed) may be faint or even absent. The black/white colouration, and the white collar do not change.

egira dolosa2
Photo courtesy of CBIF.

Posted on September 04, 2021 00:21 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 2 comments | Leave a comment

July 13, 2021

Eudryas spp.

I only became aware of these species this year. All identification descriptions only referred to the terminal scalloping as the means of separating them. It turns out that the other wing markings also play a role - see this discussion for detailed information -


Photos courtesy of CBIF

Posted on July 13, 2021 16:33 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 22, 2021

June 08, 2021

Moth migration

This is a subject that has fascinated me since the 1980's. Some work I was involved with showed that some common pest species (Mythimna (Pseudaletia) unipuncta & Peridroma saucia) could not survive Canadian prairie winters. It was proposed that the moths migrated in some way from the south - US and Mexico. ( (Paywall = P)). It was unsure at the time whether it was a random migration in that the moths got up into the atmosphere and were blown by chance to the north. The inability to survive northern winter conditions Quebec ( (p)).

Studies seem to show that M. unipuncta not only migrate north, but also south in the Canadian autumn ( Later, it was proposed that the migration was a reaction to daylength and temperature - (P).

It appears as if a number of moth species undertake this migration every spring and fall. Not only that, but moths migrate into mountains, and then back to the lowlands ( It also appears that the abundance of moths in mountains seems to help sustain Grizzly Bear populations (!

As I said, this is fascinating to me.

Posted on June 08, 2021 20:14 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 21, 2020

My microscope.

Ag Can lab

The microscope on the left was 'mine'. This is a photo from the 1980's of Gord Ayre's lab. The microscope was a beautiful German Zeiss or Leitz (I can't remember which), probably made in the 1950's. Binocular, it was not a zoom, but had three fixed lenses for magnification. It had wooden arm rests for working on the stage. I don't know what I was doing that day, but the light was separate, and was hot. Later the new microscopes would be equipped with a ring of fibre optics that stopped the heat from getting to the stage. I actually found the heat was beneficial for some things.
Anyway, while I was there, these microscopes were declared surplus, and we were able to bid on a batch. Garth Bracken arranged for a group of us to make a bid, and I joined in - I wanted to own that microscope! We submitted it, and were just short of the winning bid. I don't know who got the microscopes, but to this day I regret not having this microscope. No one's fault - just fate. But goddamn, I love that scope!!

Posted on June 21, 2020 21:49 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 1 comment | Leave a comment

William (Bill) Turnock

I've been meaning to write this for some time. Bill Turnock was another one of the scientists I worked with, although not extensively. He could dream up some amazing studies. He wanted to sample flea beetles across a canola field, presumably to see if there were more on the edge than in the middle. I was drafted into this scheme. It involved sampling at the corners of a canola field, and then across the field. Great idea, but carrying it out was another matter. Basically it involved strapping a gas lawn mower engine to your back. It ran a large vacuum sampler that had a net in it. I, and another person (I think her name was Chris) would go out to a quarter section field, strap the engine on our backs, sample around set points on the field corners, and then set out diagonally across the field. It was early to mid summer, the canola was thigh high, and the temperatures in the mid 20's C. We had a lawn mower on our backs. It was not fun. To his credit, Bill came out to see it one day, and stopped the project.
Bill was a red headed, bearded man, full of energy. When I saw him, he always seemed to be talking. The only other concrete memory I have of him was in regards to a trip to Swan River, to sample either Bertha Armyworm, or flea beetles. There were four of us, and for some reason there were four small trees at the back of the Suburban. The next day, while his main technician Bob Bilodeau, was driving, Bill remarked that the Suburban handled differently without the trees in the back. Bob gently reminded him that all the gear we had was no longer in the back as well. Bill accepted this, and moved on to another matter. Bill could be difficult, but essentially he was a good person. Apparently, he died in 2008 -

Posted on June 21, 2020 20:57 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 21, 2020

Peridroma saucia

An exceedingly variable moth. Many resemble this image, but they range in colouration from brick red to this. Main features are 7 black marks along costa, large round orbicular spot, and a fairly prominent, double AM line.

Peridroma saucia

Photo courtesy of CBIF (

Posted on March 21, 2020 20:00 by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata | 0 comments | Leave a comment