Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Round Tuit

I've been holding onto this photo since last September, waiting till I got around to searching BugGuide for a match. It's a moth that I found on the wall by our door in late afternoon.

The wing pattern echoes the feathery antennae motif.

Enough procrastinating! I spent the evening on it tonight. And after scanning all the "white moths" (2933 moths) and all the moths with a mention of feathery antennae (only 52) on BugGuide, and umpteen more on Google, I gave up and submitted my photo.

Which I should have done to start with, long ago.

The feathery antennae mark this moth as a male. He uses them as a "nose"; they're loaded with olfactory receptors - up to 60,000 in some species. And what he's smelling is a female, emitting her alluring pheromones. Somewhere, maybe miles away.

So sensitive are these organs and so characteristic and powerful is the scent, that a female has been known to summon a male from eleven kilometres away. At such a distance there must be as little as one molecule of scent in a cubic yard of air, yet it is sufficient to cause the male to fly in pursuit of its source. (From AskNature)

UPDATE: The BugGuide people are so quick! The moth is a Phantom Hemlock Looper;  Nepytia phantasmaria. Here's a link to a female: note the straight antennae.

2 comments:

  1. I am forever impressed with and grateful for entomologists. Lovely moth, and I love male moth antennae. I STILL remember learning about that in college, and "bombykol" & our teacher being amazed that a male can detect a female at bombykol concentrations of ONE part per BILLION.

    That is some powerful, sexy stuff! =)

    Also adore bugguide.net. They are SO, so great. Glad you got the answer, and put us all in the loop! (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful moth .... and I didn't realize the antennae of the males are different from the female. I, too, love Bug Guide.

    ReplyDelete

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