Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Insects on the road - a study in black, white, and brown

5sep07.JPGThis morning Fred "did the streets" - his routine before turning in at night and upon leaving the house in the morning. Sometimes it is Cepaea snails, alive or crushed by tires (one notable snail became roadkill after crossing the road to feed on a squashed frog). Most of the time there is a frog or two (Leopard Frogs, mostly) and every so often a Toad.

I think if our village did not have street lights, the road mortality (except for snails - and worms on rainy nights) would be much less than it is. Most of the insects are attracted to the lights and the brightly lit street, and the frogs (when they're not simply crossing the road on seasonal migrations) may come out to catch insects, appreciating the clear view for hunting at frogs-eye level.

There are always changes - seasonal, weather-related, and differences from year to year in both abundance and behaviour. Fred recently found our first autumn Red-belly Snake of the year , and this Giant Water Bug (Lethocerus americanus) or "Toe Biter" or "Electric Light Bug" is our first this fall. There were only very few in the spring. Some years we have a lot, and some years hardly any. These formidable aquatic predators fly from the woods to the ponds in the spring, and back again in the fall, to hibernate in the leaf litter and under logs.

As for the moths - Fred went to Lynn Scott's moth site and guessed they may be Furcula occidentalis. One gradually gets to notice smaller and smaller animals each year. Fred would have noted "little furry black and white moths" if there hadn't been four of them all on the same night. I thought the assemblage of the slain looked artistically intriguing in the steel bowl he used to bring them to the Lab for identification.


  1. >> As for the moths - Fred went to Lynn Scott’s moth site and guessed they may be Furcula occidentalis.

    * but Bev Wigney and Lynn Scott and Phil Youngman corrected me on that on the NatureList:

    Subject: Re: I thought the assemblage of the slain...
    Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 00:02:52 -0400
    From: Lynn Scott

    The grey and white moths in the roadkill photo are Tolype velleda, which
    is flying now and has shown up in numbers very late several times in the
    past week at my lights. In eastern Ontario we also see another similar
    moth in late summer/early fall -- Tolype laricis, which is somewhat
    smaller and darker in colour, but which tends to fly a couple of weeks
    earlier than Tolype velleda. I haven't seen any Tolype laricis for a
    couple of weeks. These are both in the Lasiocampidae family of moths,
    the same family as Eastern Tent Caterpillar and Forest Tent Caterpillar
    (Malacosoma spp). == Lynn Scott

    bev wigney wrote:

    > > Looks to me like a Large Tolype (Tolype vellede) -- Hodge 7670
    > > Here are photos to a few links with photos of that species.
    > >
    > >
    > > (see second row).

    * yes, that would seem to be it. A gorgeous moth, which we see
    occasionally here, but I've never known its name. A person could get
    addicted to Moths... -- fred.

  2. This timely moth discussion has been fascinating. Jake and I recently searched for confirmation on an ID of a large Underwing he spotted and photographed. Your helpful links have been added to our list of online reference sites. Thanks all. C


What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?