Saturday, June 29, 2013

Arachnis zuni - I'm lichen it.

Kudos to Rich Kostecke for digging up the ID while I stared at Halysidota in a sleep deprived stupor, wondering why none of them were gray...

Matt and I had the opportunity to blacklight on the Davis Mountains Preserve, a property that The Nature Conservancy manages; it is worthy of many, many posts on its own. After two years of drought and fire and exceptionally hot and cold weather, we were not quite sure what to expect in terms of bird or bug life, but, again, each topic could have many, many posts. Officially, we were along to help with a nocturnal pollination project that the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute is running.

The highlight of Thursday night (27 June) was a very, very worn Arachnis zuni moth. Powell and Opler (Moths of Western North America) list them as a one-flight moth; May - August being their expected flight months.

The not-quite-highlight of Friday morning (28 June) was another, less worn, female A. zuni. She, unfortunately, was squished. Very gravid, and squished.

A. zuni does show sexual dimorphism; males have white hind wings (with a hint of orange) while females have very bright orange hind wings with bold, black markings.

Earlier in the week, Rich Kostecke had found A. zuni in the same area where we found ours - his was also female.

The patterning on A. zuni certainly looked familiar, but in the absence of a photo of A. zuni on an appropriately patterned rock, y'all will have to settle for a photo of a rock. Should have thought to put the moth on it for kicks; looks like a good spot for a lichen-patterned moth to loiter.

This is a rock. It has lichen on it. No moths to see here.

For comparison, here are our two A. zuni; very lichen-y in pattern. Variable markings and differences in wear make individuals somewhat easy to tell apart. These gals have had quite an exciting life, if the tattered wings are any indication. Frayed wing tips, loss of wing scales... life's not easy for a moth.

Arachnis zuni, female, 27 June 2013
Arachnis zuni, female, 28 June 2013

The 27 June individual took a long time to settle down at the lights, but was then quite cooperative. Only one shot of the abdomen even remotely turned out, so it is included for comparison's sake.

Arachnis zuni, female, 27 June 2013

Arachnis zuni, female, 27 June 2013

Our early morning find on the 28th had more white on the wings, less white on the abdomen, and, unfortunately, a whole pile of eggs that never made it to host plants. It's not unusual for moths in the wee hours of the morning to be somewhat unresponsive, but after nudging this individual off of a leaf, I was not expecting to see eggs when I flipped her over.

Arachnis zuni, female, 28 June 2013

Arachnis zuni, female, 28 June 2013 - note the ruptured abdomen with visible eggs

There's much more to be blogged from the evening, and plenty of catching up to do from earlier in the month; exciting news is in the works! For more information, check out Arachnis zuni, Hodges #8150, on Moth Photographers Group and the A. zuni page on!

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