Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A strange moth at the Post Office‏

Spotted apatelodes, Independence, VA

Another example of how the naturalist may find something interesting wherever he/she is.  At the post office I noticed this strange moth on the front glass door, obviously attracted by lights the night before.

Thanks to Bob Perkins for identifying it for me.  It is the spotted Apatelodes, Apatelodes torrefacta., a species related to the Old World silk moths and found from S Canada to Florida.

Two things struck me about this moth: first it is very well camouflaged but second it seems to have a defensive pattern as well.  When I picked it up, it raised its abdomen which in conjunction with two eyespots connected by a dark patch plus the raised "body" seem to provide a mimc of a snake or scary critter which birds might shy away from.  

The caterpillar is considered poisonous but not the adult.  The function of the "puffy" leg patches is unclear.  The adult moths do not feed.

So when you are running errands do not forget to watch for critters!

Bill Dunson 

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