Diario del proyecto Moths of Oklahoma

31 de julio de 2020

National Moth Week recap and a new banner!

Despite not having any open/public moth nights for National Moth Week this year we did pretty well in Oklahoma. As of now there have been 1,750 observations submitted within the state from 74 different observers for a total of 482 species! For comparison, last year we had 1,534 observations from 75 observers for a total of 407 species.

Thanks to Alex Harman for submitting observations from Black Mesa State Park. Check out this first iNat record of Doll's Sphinx in the state of Oklahoma!

A few of us did a small moth night at the Forest Heritage Center at Beavers Bend State Park and recorded 129 species in one night. About 40 of these were new species for me personally. It was a lot of fun and I wish it had been safe to invite the general public to attend. Hopefully next year it will be safe to do so.

Rick Parker created an awesome new banner for our project, spelling out MOTHS OF OKLAHOMA using his own photos of moths! How cool is this?

Anotado en julio 31, viernes 18:55 por zdufran zdufran | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

18 de julio de 2020

National Moth Week has begun

“It’s the moth wonderful time of the year!” Thanks to Leah @leahn19 for the lyrics :)

National Moth Week begins today July 18 and ends July 26. With the pandemic going on we’re not doing any large gatherings this year, but I do hope lots of people will be looking for moths around their homes and posting their observations to iNaturalist. We did really well in Oklahoma last year.

This morning I was walking down the sidewalk in front of my house and a Euchaetes caterpillar crossed the path in front of me. I’ve decided that is a good omen for the beginning of moth week. Here’s to many moth observations!

If you’d like to join the the official project, you can find it here:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/national-moth-week-2020
Even if you don’t join the project, your observations will still be collected by the project.

Anotado en julio 18, sábado 16:53 por zdufran zdufran | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

02 de junio de 2020

Moth season is in swing - and a new banner image!

Starting in April I began watching for moths on just about every night when it wasn't raining and I wasn't too tired. I either set up my black light, check my front porch light, or set up my brand new mercury vapor light in the back yard. We've also had five group moth nights in Norman so far this year, taking precautions by wearing masks and keeping the group small. I try to schedule these moth nights on warm and calm evenings. If winds are above 10 mph moths really just won't sit still on a sheet. We've had some tremendous success with species counts of 122 and 129 species on the last two nights! One night, in particular, seemed to be perfect. It had been raining for several days prior, which I think meant that a lot of pupa that may have been ready to eclose (hatch) waited until the rain stopped. When we reached the first dry and warm night there were more moths eclosing than would normally eclose on a given night. It's just a theory, but it makes sense to me.

The project is now approaching 1400 species, which is wonderful. With your help we're answering the question: How many species of moths are there in Oklahoma?

I have updated the banner image with a photo of a Common Lytrosis (Lytrosis unitaria) taken by Rick Parker. This is a beautiful large moth that looks like wood grain. Leah found one of these near Wellston, Oklahoma on Friday night. Then we spotted one at our most recent moth night near Lake Thunderbird on Saturday, and then Rick saw another one at his house on Sunday. Three consecutive days of Lytrosis sightings! It is fun to see observations roll in of certain species in different parts of the state about the same time.

Anotado en junio 02, martes 19:59 por zdufran zdufran | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de abril de 2020

Most Common Moth by Month

The moth season has definitely begun! We're getting lots of observations both from our regular moth-ers and from other people all over the state that are participating in the Oklahoma Spring Virtual BioBlitz! For this post I thought it would be fun to look at the most commonly observed species in each month of the year, using all of the observations that have been submitted for our state. Common and (Latin) names are provided, along with [number of observations] in that month. There are two-way ties in several of the months. Here's the list!

January: Green Cloverworm (Hypena scabra) and Arge Moth (Apantesis arge) [2 each]
February: Green Cloverworm (Hypena scabra) and Spring Cankerworm (Paleacrita vernata) [9 each]
March: Common Oak Moth (Phoberia automaris) [38]
April: Fall Webworm (Hyphantria cunea) [60]
May: Carpenterworm Moth (Prionoxystus robiniae) and Thin-lined Owlet (Isogona tenuis) [29 each]
June: White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata) and Yellow-striped Armyworm Moth (Spodoptera ornithogalli) [25 each]
July: Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aure) [34]
August: Luna Moth (Actias luna) [54]
September: Corn Earworm Moth (Helicoverpa zea) [44]
October: Green Cloverworm (Hypena scabra) [38]
November: Green Cloverworm (Hypena scabra) [24]
December: Green Cloverworm (Hypena scabra) [10]

and the winner for most observations any time of the year is...

Fall Webworm Moth (Hyphantria cunea) with 225 observations narrowly edging out Green Cloverworm with 207 observations.

Anotado en abril 07, martes 17:54 por zdufran zdufran | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

25 de febrero de 2020

New banner image!

Hello fellow moth-ers!

I hope you're getting excited about the approach of the 2020 mothing season. The weather is starting to change and moths are showing up at porch lights on the warmer evenings. I have not updated our banner image in a while and figured it was time to do that.

This month's featured observation is a wonderful photo of a Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) visiting a lily. It was observed and photographed by Lisa (@lmm3629) in the Tulsa metro area. Congratulations on the wonderful photo, Lisa!

Anotado en febrero 25, martes 14:44 por zdufran zdufran | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de noviembre de 2019

New banner image!

I have updated the banner image on the Moths of Oklahoma project page with yet another caterpillar. This one is an Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) observed by Bill Carrell (@arrowheadspiketail58) at Oxley Nature Center in Tulsa. Thanks for sharing this great observation, Bill!

We only have 3 iNat observations of this species within Oklahoma and all three are of caterpillars. Chances are good that this moth occurs throughout most of the state, although the available data suggests it is probably most common in the northeast part of the state. Looking at iNat's data, I see that there are two periods of time when caterpillars are seen: spring (April) and fall (August-November). There are fewer adult observations and mostly during the months of June and July. I wonder when and where someone will observe the first adult in Oklahoma.

Anotado en noviembre 19, martes 21:12 por zdufran zdufran | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de noviembre de 2019

Fall Moths

The more I observe moths, the more I learn about their seasonality. I have more or less stopped my nightly monitoring of moths in my backyard, but occasionally I'm coming home after dark (especially now that the time has changed) and check the porch light to see what's around. I've been pleasantly surprised with a few species on my porch that are not common for my yard. This makes me think maybe I should do more late season monitoring of moths. I may have to get my black light out again!

I wanted to highlight a few species that seem to be more common at this time of the year. I used the iNaturalist observation filtering tools and viewed the individual species seasonality graphs to generate this list. These seasonality graphs are probably only part of the story since they are made from all observations, not just Oklahoma observations. I know that location affects the seasonality as well, so keep that in mind.

Bent-line Dart
According to the seasonality chart, this species is on the wing from September to December, hitting a peak in October. I was particularly happy to find this one on my porch recently, since I had never seen it at my house before. I'm pretty sure that's just from my lack of observations at this time of year.

Bicolored Sallow
This species has pretty much the same seasonality as the Bent-line Dart, hitting it's peak in October as well.

White-tipped Black
I have not seen this species myself so I'm jealous and a little driven to go looking for them. So far we don't have any iNat sightings in central Oklahoma, but we do have them both east and west of us. Apparently this species is common year round in Texas and Florida and then shows up during September to November outside of that range. There was an irruption in 2007 in Oklahoma, which John Fisher documented here. Based on the photos, I believe this is a day-flying moth.

Green Cloverworm
Green Cloverworms are present year round and stand out to me as the most common moth at my house, especially late in the year. Their seasonality peak is in August, but continues at a high level throughout the fall.

Morning-glory Plume and Armyworm
These moths are also present throughout the year. The peak months are July and August but there is another bump in October. I have had several of each of these on my porch recently.

Cobbler Moth
This species has low counts throughout the year with a short peak in October.

Eight-spot Moth
This species hits its peak in October, with a smaller peak in July.

Isabella Tiger Moth
This species hits its peak seasonality in September and October. This is one of those species that seems to be seen more often as a caterpillar and less often as an adult moth. Why? Perhaps they are not attracted to lights... I haven't seen this species, so I need to be on the look out! We don't have any iNat observations of an adult of this species in Oklahoma.

Venerable and Pale-banded Darts
There are a number of darts that are more prevalent from late summer through fall. The Venerable Dart peaks in September and the Pale-banded peaks in October.

I'm sure I'm leaving out plenty of species, but these were the ones that jumped out at me when I was searching in iNaturalist. Certainly with more observing during these fall months we will get a better feel for which species to expect during this season.

I'm also curious about why certain species are more common this time of year. I assume it is mostly due to the larval food source, but I haven't spent much time looking into each species yet.

Have you been noticing any other species this time of year that is maybe less common during the summer?

Anotado en noviembre 05, martes 16:28 por zdufran zdufran | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

29 de octubre de 2019

Annual Report

This project has been blossoming, so I thought it would be fun to do a little observation data filtering to see how the project has grown. It is great that iNaturalist makes this so easy. It probably took me 5-10 minutes to gather this information. The calendar year is not complete yet and there will be some more additions, but I don't expect the species number to change much between now and December 31. Without further ado, here are the numbers:

year observations observers species running species count new species for the year
pre-2017 1,222 141 357 357 -
2017 1,606 141 456 585 228
2018 3,875 357 629 816 231
2019 10,194 561 949 1149 333

Clearly we had a big swell in observations this year! It paid off with more new species added to the project this year than any past year. I suspect that even if we have more observers and more observations next year, we'll start to slow down on the species added as we asymptotically approach the true species count for the state. We honestly don't know what the number is, but I would venture to guess that we're around 3/4 of the way there.

Another contributor to our large number of observations this year is that we had TWELVE moth nights scheduled this year, ranging from early April through mid October. Most of these were at the same location in east Norman, but we also had the National Moth Week events in southwest and northeast Oklahoma and a moth night at the Oklahoma BioBlitz in eastern Oklahoma.

Some things I am excited about in the years to come are getting more people involved in the project and filling in the gaps around our state. There are certainly moths in every county, and yet the records in many counties are pretty sparse, both on iNaturalist and in the official state records. Let's fill 'em in!

Anotado en octubre 29, martes 13:10 por zdufran zdufran | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de octubre de 2019

Population Bias (aka "The Tulsa Phenomenon")

Earlier this summer I wrote a blog post about the ranges of moths in Oklahoma. I finished that post by mentioning the "Tulsa range phenomenon." This relates to my recent post on observation biases.

When I was flipping through my field guide looking specifically at the range maps I noticed a trend - there were a lot of maps that showed the species occurring in the Tulsa area, but not in the rest of the state. Is there something special about Tulsa that results in a huge biodiversity that is not seen elsewhere in the state? I don't think so. True, Tulsa is in the wetter eastern part of the state where there is a higher species diversity among plants and that results in more species of insects, but the number of species in other eastern parts of Oklahoma should be comparable to Tulsa.


Here is a single example of a range map that displays the "Tulsa phenomenon." This is Lespedeza Webworm (Pococera scortealis), which is shown as only occurring in the northeast part of Oklahoma (Tulsa). However, we have spotted this species at two of our moth nights in Norman.

I believe what we're seeing with this range maps is simply a bias of where observations are being made. Not only is Tulsa the second most populous city in the state, but there have also been a few dedicated individuals making regular observations of Lepidoptera in the Tulsa metro area. In fact, the state keeper of Lepidoptera records lives in the Tulsa area and has been making observations there for many years. So when we see a bulls-eye of species biodiversity in the Tulsa area I think what we're seeing is a reflection of the number of days spent observing.

I was first exposed to this concept of observation bias when I was studying meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. We were looking at a United States map that showed the track of every known tornado observation and you could see there were more observations near populated areas. Why? Historically the reason is because there were people there to see them. Nowadays it is rare for a single tornado to go unnoticed in the United States because of the storm chaser/spotter community and the lead time provided for severe weather by weather models and forecasters. Tornado vortex signatures are detected by radar and there are hundreds of storm chasers roaming the country, scouting out every storm with the potential to rotate. Therefore, the data set is becoming much less biased towards population centers.

Do you think we could ever come to a day when moths, or at least certain moths, could be so well observed? Probably not, but one can dream...

Anotado en octubre 17, jueves 21:08 por zdufran zdufran | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

New banner image!

Our new banner image is a Pandorus Sphinx (Eumorpha pandorus) caterpillar observed by @lmm3629 in Jenks! It is a beautiful caterpillar that is not often seen in Oklahoma. Click the image to see the observation.

Congrats @lmm3629 and keep up those observations!

We'll select a new banner image in mid-November.

Anotado en octubre 17, jueves 19:48 por zdufran zdufran | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario