Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pink Star Moth

Once in awhile, I dust off a black light and set it outside in front of the big white garage door. In addition to spooking out the occasional neighbor driving by, the black light brings in a wide variety of insects. This works best on cloudy, warm nights after a rain; but it is fun to try anytime. Last night I was visited by countless geometer moths, small click beetles, a blister beetle, piles of flying ants, and this little lady:

Derrima stellata
This is a pink star moth (Derrima stellata). It is quite small which is probably good for the species because if it were much bigger, collectors would be mounting them for their walls. You don't get to see a pink-bodied moth very often. Certainly in Central Florida it is the only pink-bodied moth I'm aware of. The pink star moth is quite uncommon and virtually nothing is known of its diet and habits.
Derrima stellata

In honor of my mysterious and beautiful visitor, here is a list of moths with fantastic names:

Inconsolable Underwing
Intractable Quaker
Black Witch
The Half-Wing
The Bad-Wing
The Sweetheart
The Betrothed
The Bride
The Old Maid
The Little Beggar
The Neighbor
The Laugher
Grateful Midget
The Confederate
The Scribbler
The Nutmeg
Tissue Moth
Chalky Wave
Three-Spotted Fillip
Small Necklace
The Gem
Pistachio Emerald
Ruby Tiger
Purple Plagodis
Blackberry Looper
Blurry Chocolate Angle
Long-horned Owlet
Moon-lined Moth
Horrid Zale
Honest Pero
Dappled Dart
Fluid Arches
Delightful Dagger
Shy Cosmet

A lot of people appreciate butterflies, but moths are every bit as beautiful and interesting. In fact, the technical line dividing butterflies and moths is very blurry. There are day-flying moths and night-flying butterflies. There are butterflies that don't eat nectar from flowers and moths that do. There are plenty of brownish butterflies and, as the pink star illustrates, stunning and intricate moths. So pay attention when you go outside with the porchlights on, you will probably learn something fascinating and new.

Here are a couple of great websites to help you identify your discoveries:

Moth Photographers Group

Images of North American Moths

Moths and Butterflies of the Southeast

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