Sunday, April 20, 2014

Visit from a SUPER-Moth!

Last night I put my black light out and despite the 55 degree F chilly temps, a Ceanothus Silk Moth (Hyalophora euryalus) showed up and perched on the stucco right next to the sliding glass door to the bedroom. Not too much of a surprise, as we have no lack of Ceanothus up here (to the disgust of some of our neighbors, who have been inundated in it post-Cedar Fire). Some White-lined Sphinx moths appeared as well, in addition to Brown Leatherwings, a solitary Serica, and a large Elater lecontei.

With wings somewhat spread. It slowly moved its wings in and out as it rested on the stucco.

What a fuzzy fellow! The wide antennae with high surface area indicate a male.


  1. You should have titled your post - "Mothra"

    On the point bout neighbours and Ceanothus, they could have taken an immediate hands on approach that following Rainy season of (2003/2004) and actually planted bare root pines, oaks etc. But they don't or refused.. In that way they follow the failed science-based US Forest Service approach to waiting a few years later, then cursing the very Chaparral plants which would have facilitated a successful re-establishment of the forest trees. Unfortunately for Cuyamaca and other southwestern Forest areas, they have not necessarily produced an abundance of seed over the past decade or so. Hence as a result of the imbalance, Nature was able to provide the necessary ingredients on a wide level for unmolested reforestation.

    Although, I went with my Brother to his friends wedding reception on North Peak in the Autumn of 2004. Interesting place as this family has owned this property up there for many many decades and it was once an old working Lumber Mill. Some of the equipment was still there and they did do some salvage logging afterwards and make some really kool furniture. One intriguing observation I had looking at the trees on their property that made it among those snags which didn't. The understory looked as if grass had taken over on a massive scale. However closer inspection revealed it was a mass reseeding of Incense Cedar. How kool was that ? I'll have to get my brother to take my wife and I back over to their place so I can photograph what became of everything.

    Beautiful exciting pics BTW. Wish more folks did this.

    1. You might find it interesting that there was a controlled burn a few weeks ago in Paso Picacho, right near the main campground and very visible from the 79, which was presumably to remove the Ceanothus, so they can plant trees in there.

      There was a mass planting of Incense Cedars in the park, near Paso Picacho, a few years after the fire, but it seemed that there was a pretty massive mortality rate on the tiny trees, in my opinion simply because they were not watered when they were getting established. I know some of my neighbors here also planted a bunch of little cedars and didn't water them for the first year to get them established and most of them died also.

      I think I have seen some of the furniture and other things built by your brother's friend (if he's the same one who sells or does things on commission). He does beautiful work.

  2. I, of course, love Ceanothus and all the stuff it attracts.
    I still sometimes use the photo that you took of me with a similar beautiful moth, at Miller Canyon I think it was.
    Your temperature observation makes me wonder if these moths, like sphingids, can increase their body temperature by muscle shivering to be able to fly. They are so big and well insulated, so it seems possible, but then they don't feed, so what extra energy do they have to burn? They never seem willing to do a lot of flying anyway. Maybe its pupa was not far from where it showed up.

  3. We don't have a lot of Ceanothus right near the house, but there might be a bush or two lurking closer than I was aware of -- the landscape is getting quite thick now. Gary and I were sitting in our chairs at night in the middle of Gardner Canyon Road years ago (with a black light nearby) and heard a huge Polyphemus moth flopping down the road for many minutes before it arrived. It never really got airborne but was determined to get to the light!

  4. Absolutely stunning. The wildlife in Canada isn't as beautiful as what you folks find in the southern U.S.

    1. Thanks Adam - one thing you have that we don't, is RAIN, though! So much more lushness overall...