Backyard Bug Inventory

Maple-Basswood Leafroller

Maple-Basswood Leafroller

I haven’t done as much photography in my own yard this year as I would have liked; I’ve seen no butterflies other than the ubiquitous Cabbage Whites, no flashy moths visiting my flowers or perching on my house during the daylight, and no odes other than a couple of darners flying too high up to identify. Still, I knew there had to be some colourful insects around, and once I made the effort to go looking for them, I ended up finding some colourful old friends as well as quite a few new species for my yard.

Two of the new species, both ladybugs, were new for my life list as well as my yard list. While filling the feeder on June 10th I noticed a small, round black bug sitting on my screen door. On closer inspection I saw that it had two red circular spots on its elytra.

Twice-stabbed Lady Beetle

Twice-stabbed Lady Beetle

I grabbed my camera, then carefully knocked the ladybug onto my hand. It was so tiny that photographing it in macro mode made for a real challenge. The ladybug flew off after only a couple of photos, but they were enough for me to identify it as a Twice-stabbed Lady Beetle, the only Ontario species with this colour pattern. This species is usually found on tree trunks and branches where it feeds on scale insects and other soft-bodied prey. What it was doing on my screen door I’ll never know, but I was happy to see it in my yard!

Twice-stabbed Lady Beetle

Twice-stabbed Lady Beetle

My second new ladybug species was this Orange-spotted Lady Beetle seen crawling on my Purple Coneflower plants on June 25th. I was weeding the garden when I first saw it, and tried to take a few pictures. Unfortunately they didn’t turn out so well, as the ladybug was almost too small to photograph it in macro mode and moving fairly quickly. However, even this blurry shot was enough to identify it. (Happily I was able to get some much better photos of this pretty beetle at Bruce Pit later in the summer.)

Orange-spotted Lady Beetle

Orange-spotted Lady Beetle

Once again Twice-stabbed Stinkbugs have taken up residence in my back garden. They are known to feed on plants and seeds, but have never caused severe damage to my garden so I just let them be. I often find them mating on my flowers, in particular my columbines. This one was photographed on June 25th.

Two-spotted stinkbug

Twice-stabbed Stinkbugs (Cosmopepla lintneriana)

This Green Pug moth was a new species for my yard. Although I’d seen one a few years ago on a moth outing with Diane Lepage, it is much more satisfying to see them and photograph them in their natural habitat. In this case, the “natural habitat” is the wooden fence it landed on after I scared it up from the grass on June 26th. It blends in rather well with the knot in the wood; had I not seen where it landed, I wouldn’t have known it was there. The Green Pug is a non-native species that originates in Europe. It was introduced to northeastern North America from Europe around 1970 and can now be found in northeastern United States, southeastern Canada, British Columbia and Washington.

Green Pug

Green Pug

This Ilia Underwing is the largest moth seen in my yard this year. I opened the garage door one day only to have it fly out from its hiding spot between the door and the wall. It landed above the door with one wing open just enough to see a hint of the bright orange band on its hindwing. This is the first time I’ve seen this species in my yard (July 12th).

Ilia Underwing

Ilia Underwing

The Orange Mint Moth is not a new species for me, but is new for my yard. The larvae feed on mint species, such as the Bee Balm (Monarda sp.) that grows in my back garden. For such a tiny moth it sure is colourful, and I was thrilled to see it in my yard on August 6th.

Orange Mint Moth

Orange Mint Moth (Pyrausta orphisalis)

Like its close relative, the Orange Mint Moth, the Raspberry Pyrausta Moth also feeds on Beebalm in its larval stage. However, this was not a new species for my garden as I first saw one in 2010. According to Bugguide, adults fly from May to September. This is interesting in light of the fact that my first sighting occurred in early June 2010, while this sighting occurred on August 1st.

Raspberry Pyrausta Moth

Raspberry Pyrausta Moth (Pyrausta signatalis)

By the end of July I was examining the small moths visiting my porch light on hot nights and delving into Tortricid identification. These small bell-shaped moths were showing up almost every night, and no two looked alike. I submitted a few images to Bugguide and a few to Diane Lepage, and both indicated that these were all Maple-Basswood Leafrollers. My Peterson field guide states that “the forewing is variably whitish to pale yellow, with often with fragmented brown lines”. A quick look at the species page on Bugguide shows just how variable they are! While Diane told me that Tortricidae are hard to identify, as there aren’t enough field guides specializing in Tortricid identification, someone at Bugguide suggested that the yellow colour of the head and the shape of the moth are fairly diagnostic.

This was the most patterned one that I saw; I had thought it was something else entirely, but the yellowish head didn’t match any other species.

Tortricid sp.

Maple-Basswood Leafroller

Pure white forewings with miniscule brownish-orange spots are a common variation.

Maple-basswood leafroller

Maple-basswood leafroller

Deep yellow forewings with visible brownish-orange markings are yet another variation of this species.

Maple-basswood leafroller

Maple-basswood leafroller

Yet another moth had deep orange wings with white borders.

Tortricid sp.

Maple-Basswood Leafroller

I haven’t received a formal identification on this moth yet, but it has a yellow head and the pattern doesn’t match anything else, so I’m guessing it’s also a Maple-Basswood Leafroller. This species is quite common in its range, which covers the eastern half of North America from Saskatchewan to Florida. It has only one adult generation per year, and lays its eggs on maple, alder, birch, poplar and oak trees. These moths were all photographed during a two-week period from July 12-25, 2016.

Tortricid sp.

Tortricid sp.

The only other Tortricid moth that showed up during this time frame was a moth called “The Batman Moth” which appeared on July 22nd. I am guessing that its name comes from what looks like the bat symbol in the middle of its wings. This species is not in my Peterson guide; I hadn’t realized that it only covered 1,500 of the most common or eye-catching moths of Northeastern North America. Although I was a bit disappointed, hopefully the limited number of species will make it easier, not harder, to identify the moths I come across. Up close, the pinkish hues of this moth are quite lovely, making me wonder if it was excluded from the guide due to its rarity… there doesn’t seem to be much info on the web on this species.

The Batman

The Batman Moth (Coelostathma discopunctana)

Despite seeing so many Forest Tent Caterpillars in Gatieau Park in June, I didn’t think I’d see an adult moth, especially at home, but this one showed up at the lights on July 12th.

Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth

Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma disstria)

This dark moth turned out to be relatively easy to identify, as its angular wings held out like a butterfly’s immediately marked it as a member of the Geometer family. This individual is a female; while the males look similar to the White-banded Toothed Carpet Moths that I regularly see, females have distinct maroon-coloured forewings with a small white “O” near the leading edge, called a discal spot. She showed up on July 13th.

The Gem2

The Gem (Orthonama obstipata)

This one was identified for me as a Hydrangea Leaftier Moth. It belongs to the Torticidae family, but a different subfamily (Olethreutinae) than the other Tortricids that I’ve photographed. They typically hold their wings curled close to the body. The Hydrangea Leaftier Moth, which feeds on wild Hydrangea in its larval stage, can be identified by the chestnut brown basal area and trapezoidal subapical patch.

Hydrangea Leaftier Moth

Hydrangea Leaftier Moth

The Forage Looper Moth is a common species in our area; while I’ve seen them in the field, I’ve never seen one at home before. This one was resting on my wall as I was leaving the house one morning.

Forage Looper Moth

Forage Looper Moth

This fishfly was also resting on my wall the same morning. It’s not the first time I’ve seen these strange-looking bugs on my house, though it’s been a while.

Fishfly

Fishfly

I almost didn’t photograph this moth on my way out the door on the morning of July 29th, as I recognized it as a carpet moth and I had seen plenty of those around. Then I realized I had never seen one with such a distinct orange band before. I was glad I took a few photos as it was indeed a new moth for my life list- the Labrador Carpet Moth. This widespread species is found across Canada in open wooded areas and forest edges. I thought it was quite neat-looking and will have to pay more attention to the carpet moths I come across!

Labrador Carpet Moth

Labrador Carpet Moth

It’s great to see such a variety of insects around the yard even as the summer is starting to wane. Although most of the moths appeared unremarkable at first glance, a deeper look revealed some surprising colours and patterns. I will have to make an effort to spend more time in the garden and checking the porch light after dark to see what is literally in my own backyard!

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