Friday, August 8, 2014

Neuroptera for all!

Neuroptera are nerve-winged insects: owl flies, antlions, lacewings, and mantis flies fall into that category and all of the above have been present at the lights this summer/fall:

As usual, apologies for the horrid quality of the images, but google should be able to give you a better idea of what these photogenic creatures look like in more ideal situations!

Owl fly - Note the suuuper long, butterfly-like antennae:

Antlion - a larger than average individual:

Lower left is the lacewing - somehow it was never cornered for a solo portrait session:

Mantis fly video link:

^^ the mantis fly was filmed in Tarrant Co, everything else was Alpine, Brewster Co. So many good bugs out there, so many amazingly excellent bugs... 

* video to be embedded at some point!

Edit: more [bad] photos! 

Mantis fly from 10 Aug 2014, Tarrant Co. 

And a super blurry green lacewing from the same sheet:

Friday, August 1, 2014

A bug in the hand is worth... unknown number of bugs in the bush?

This is just a handful (heh... heh...) of the moths that turned up at the lights last night. High humidity and outward facing walls in a canyon of mixed high desert scrub and oaks... well, the results far surpassed my highest expectations and I did a pretty sad job of documenting things (photo quality being the least of my feeble documentation problems, unfortunately).

Really, I just wanted to play with them.

Ye olde, familiar White-lined Sphinx, Hyles lineata. I stopped counting at eight.

A stripey comparison with a solitary Vine Sphinx, Eumorpha vitis:

Five-spotted Hawkmoth, is that you? Manduca quinquemaculatus! Easily five were still present this morning.

Falcon Sphinx! Xylophanes falco -- these gems are wrapped in the night sky as caterpillars and that's not much of a metaphor. Two were present.

Pint-sized would be an overstatement for the Walnut Sphinx, Amorpha jugulandis. Population for the night: one.

Now let's jump from our small sphinx to our big silkmoth, Walnut Sphinx, meet Oculea Silkmoth! While some sphinxes can be large, none are quite so bat-like as any of the silkmoths tend to be.

This one, lone, lovely lass was most definitely the highlight of the night - and morning:
Oculea Silkmoth, Antheraea oculea, also called the Western Polyphemus Moth.

iNaturalist has some interesting folks out there, this is most definitely NOT a buckeye!

Never turn your back on Hubbard's Small Silkmoth, they are fiesty! I just wanted to get that deep watermelon pink of the hindwing somewhere in the post...

A bit less showy here, Hubbard's Small Silkmoth, Sphingicampa hubbardi or Syssphinx hubbardi, depending on how technical you want to get. At least four made it to the lights.

Cobubatha spp, for kicks. ID suggestions welcomed! Two or three present overnight.

This has been uber-blogged here before, but one never resists the wiles of Halysidota davisii, Davis's Tussock Moth. There were easily six on the wall!* (and by that, I do include chairs, the ground, and things near the light)

If not terribly mistaken, this tiny Bigfoot is Euclea incisa - only one was around last night, but two weeks ago the numbers ranged nearly to double digits. It really needs a good common name. Saddleblanket Moth seems a bit unwieldy though. But it is wearing a green blanket...

...and darn it if I didn't have this identified a month ago and have magically lost my brain. Black wings, striped butt, nice pants - should be an easy one. Will update with an ID when I get a chance!

*** Nick Block wins the internet for reminding me that Texas Wasp Moth should not be so hard to remember! Horama panthalon even has pants in the name! Now I feel that I should have included pics of the Yellow-collared Scape Moths because at least I knew what they were when I saw them (they look like 'love bugs' in moth form).

* Many thanks to Sky Stevens for permission and encouragement with the blacklighting at her place just west of Alpine! Brewster County does snag a few Jeff Davis Co species here!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


The "real" Davis Mts post hasn't happened yet; I apparently lied about that. In the meantime, have a lovely Tantilla spp from a house (yes, inside) west of Alpine!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Davis Mts Preserve Teaser

...this weekend was an open weekend at The Nature Conservancy's Davis Mountains Preserve. Here's your teaser until a real post is assembled: 

(Black-necked garter snake)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


I was enthralled with Common Streaky Skipper the first time I saw it; a tiny, dark blur that finally landed... If rainbows were sepia, this insect would fit the bill. If fireworks were subtle shades of nuanced earthy browns, well, I think you get the idea. I REALLY like Common Streaky Skippers. This one is from early July, just west of Alpine. Mmmm, shoddy phone pics....

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Guest Sightings: Davis Mts

Slightly adapted from an email sent by Bill Sain of Alpine, TX:

(From Sunday, July 6, 2014)

No Montezuma Quail at Davis Mountains State Park this morning but I did see a pair on the road three miles from the picnic area [LE Woods picnic area, past the McDonald Observatory - h].  I did see a Hepatic Tanager at DMSP.  There appears to be nesting Cooper's Hawks at the picnic area.  There were five teachers from Weslaco camping there and they were asking me about a hawk they kept seeing.  Sounded like a Coopers to me (poor photos also showed a Coop) but one was adamant it was a Peregrine.  The other folks looked at their bird book and agreed that they had seen a Coopers.  I walked along the road and flushed an unknown hawk from a tree.  It did not go far so I searched the area and found a young Coopers in the tree the first hawk flushed from.  I don't know if the flushed bird was an adult or another juvenile.  The hawks were in the area where I saw Plumbeous Vireo last year...didn't see or hear any vireos there this year.  No Gray Flycatchers either.  Both the park and the picnic area were extremely busy was not easy to bird there dodging people, cars, and noise.  Three year birds for the day, the quail, tanager and the Western Wood-Pewee.


While we are in limbo, emailed reports of all kinds are appreciated!