Monthly Archives: July 2011

Acronicta morula

A big pretty girl I got at my black-light last night. My advisor has repeatedly told me he has not collected this species east of the CT river. Seems I got pretty lucky!

Here she is:

And a preserved specimen in the collection, for comparison:

The orange spot on the thorax is distinctive, as well as the lack of dark markings around the reniform and orbicular spots. The orbicular is actually small and orange, also distinctive.

I’ve got her in a container with some cotton soaked in sugar water, I’m anxious to see if she lays anything for me.

Other black-light visitors

These large mayflies were decorating my black-lighting sheet well into the day, even the birds were reluctant to pick them off.  I’m thinking Hexagenia sp.?

(photos from when I was in the Adirondacks)


We made it! It was interesting trying to explain to my grandmother and other relatives why I had to carry around a few trays full of plastic containers holding caterpillars, a cooler full of plants, why I needed to hang a blacklight outside and check it throughout the night, and why there were live moths fluttering in plastic jars in the fridge in the morning.

It was a great weekend. Met up with my wonderful boyfriend at my parents’ place, and we all drove up to the Adirondack mountains to visit relatives. Even though my wrist is still in a brace we went hiking, swimming, canoeing, and ate lots of ice cream. Here is an example of a beautiful trail… which I was hardly able to enjoy due to all of the mosquitoes.

My boyfriend worked on teaching me sign language and helped me with tree identification. It turns out I need to know my plants pretty well in order to feed my caterpillars, so dating a guy with a degree in forestry is a bonus!

Of course I saw some caterpillars.

At first I thought this was some sort of cutworm, but it’s actually a noctuid in the genus Lithophane. Pretty cool. I didn’t have my camera on me when I saw the others, but there were a few neat geometrids in the trees.

I got a bunch of Acronicta moths at my blacklight, mostly A. americana males, a male A. innotata, and one female A. hasta. So some good specimens to practice spreading, and one lady who has already laid me a bunch of eggs! My caterpillars all cooperated and handled the driving around ok, and were well fed with my constant attention. I was able to keep track of molts, even if I couldn’t measure them or photograph them right away. The past few days have been a flurry of catch-up, and right now I think I’m on track.



Me and my babies

We are off on an adventure!

My boyfriend and I are going to spend the weekend with my family in the Adirondack mountains this weekend. Since it’s a long holiday weekend, everyone else has plans as well. My caterpillars need daily attention, so… they are coming with us! I have bags of plants packed to keep them well fed. I’m bringing some eggs with me as well, the ones with the possibility of hatching while I’m gone.

I am also bringing some blacklighting equipment and tree beating supplies to see if I can get any other Acronicta species this weekend. Just what I need, more caterpillars, right?

Ryerson Lab

Functional Morphology, Sensory Biology, Behavior, Biomechanics

I spell it nature

Trying to make sense of the world through science and language.