Giant Gray Moth (Cymatophora approximaria) range and flight summary using iNaturalist data

The Giant Gray Moth has been an interest of mine for several years. It has a short flight window in the fall, and until recently, was not recognized by the iNaturalist computer vision models. This left many observations at a higher taxa level or incorrectly ID'd. Thanks to the help of other iNaturalist users to get these observations to species, the dataset in iNaturalist is providing a more accurate picture of the distribution and flight period of this species.

The figure below combines research grade observations and their corresponding Level IV Ecoregions. I also included a flight chart of those same observations. I marked Abita Springs, LA on the map due to the work of Vernon Brou who has published information on the species from his study site in Louisiana. The dashed line is an approximation of the range I've hand-drawn based on current observations and is for illustrative purposes only.

Interestingly, there is a noticeable gap in the distribution, centered on the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. This is also reflected in the MPG range map. The flight period matches what Brou found in Louisiana, except for a few outlier records in early October and early December. Florida has the latest records, including one 14 Dec and one 16 Dec. Bugguide lists observations from Georgia in late September.

New Jersey is within range based on published information, but none have been reported on iNaturalist, MPG, or Bugguide yet.

Now that the computer vision recognizes Giant Gray Moth, hopefully future observations will be more readily identifiable, and observers in the s.e. US will become more aware of this late fall moth that makes a relatively brief appearance each year.

Giant Gray Moth

由使用者 johntrent johntrent2021年12月02日 20:29 所貼文 | 4 評論 | 留下評論


Lake Almanor, Plumas Co., CA (Sep 2019) (Trip)

Two nights blacklighting at Lake Almanor, CA. Temperatures ranged from the low 40s to mid 80s (°F).


Photo showing light setup and habitat in background.

由使用者 johntrent johntrent2021年10月26日 18:20 所貼文 | 127 個觀察記錄 | 0 評論 | 留下評論


Working List of Eupithecia in Alabama

The following is a list of moth species in the genus Eupithecia observed in Alabama. This list is compiled from my observations/collections and should not be seen as complete or the result of an exhaustive record/collection search. If I come across additional verified species from other sources I will update accordingly. All of the specimens below have been dissected and determined by JoAnne Russo (@joannerusso).

Eupithecia peckorum (7453) | MPG

REMARKS | Flight Period: spring and fall. Verified specimens March & October (Bullock Co.).

Eupithecia columbiata (7459) | MPG

REMARKS | Flight Period: spring. One verified specimen from Huntsville (Madison Co.) in late April. This may be the first record of this species in the state.

Eupithecia miserulata (7474) | MPG

REMARKS | Flight Period: presumed year-round. Most common and most frequently encountered species in the state.

Eupithecia jejunata (7486) | MPG

REMARKS | Flight Period: late winter-spring. Verified specimens late February–early March (Bullock Co.)

Eupithecia fletcherata (7491) | MPG

REMARKS | Flight Period: Summer (maybe spring?). Verified specimens mid–August (Madison Co.)

Eupithecia matheri (7509.1) | MPG

REMARKS | Flight Period: spring. Verified specimens early March (Bullock Co.).

Eupithecia swettii (7530) | MPG

REMARKS | Flight Period: spring. Verified specimens early March (Bullock Co.).

DISCUSSION | In contrast with the common and frequently encountered misuralata, swettii, jejunata and matheri have a much shorter flight period. Late February–March appears to be the best time to look for them in south Alabama. March-early April may be peak time for north Alabama. Fall provides an additional opportunity to find peckorum. E. columbiata and fletcherata may be restricted to mountains and ridges of NE Alabama—the closest records on MPG are in the southern Appalachian mountains of TN and NC.

Additional Resources

由使用者 johntrent johntrent2021年10月08日 02:37 所貼文 | 2 評論 | 留下評論


Notes on an undescribed species of Lithacodia in Alabama

This note summarizes observations of an undescribed species in the genus Lithacodia (Family Noctuidae) in Alabama, particularly at the Wehle Land Conservation Center in Bullock County where I regularly encounter this moth. The few details available on this moth (to my knowledge) can be found on BugGuide (including link to survey results in NC) as well as specimens listed on BOLD.

Over the past 4 years I've photographed individuals encountered on a nightly basis throughout the season and upload those photos to iNaturalist in order to get a better handle on flight times. To date, individuals have been documented on 53 nights from 7 April—24 September, 2018-2021 (see chart below). I haven't kept nightly counts—however I typically will find 1-2 on an average night if present, with at most 3-4 observed on a given night. There appears to be potentially two main flights in spring and summer (with a lull in June).

Lithacodia n sp

The vast majority of encounters (approximately 90%) at the Bullock County site have been found at one location. The light trap at this site is located at a building on a small sandhill upland, bordered by a natural seepage drain that flows into a nearby pond (see photo below). The seepage habitat does contain Arundinaria sp. (river cane) which has been reported as a potential characteristic of preferred habitat.

Undescribed Lithacodia Habitat, Bullock County, Alabama

One other record in Alabama has been recorded in Randolph County by @a24 on May 19, 2020. @kbakkegard, @xylochic627, and @jeffgarner have also contributed images of this undescribed species observed at the Bullock County site. A list of my personal observations can be found here

Thanks to @kyhlaustin for helping me figure out this ID initially

Additional Observations on iNaturalist

NC — https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/194025371
NC — https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/116334297
GA — https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/124777057
AL — https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/67358417

由使用者 johntrent johntrent2021年08月19日 19:44 所貼文 | 4 評論 | 留下評論


Notes on Pelochrista fraudabilis in Alabama

Pelochrista fraudabilis is a moth in the family Tortricidae (Tribe Eucosmini) found in the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plain regions of the eastern US . Online resources (Bug Guide | MPG | BOLD) show few scattered records from New Jersey south to Florida in June and July. Heinrich (1923) details multiple individuals in North Carolina collected in June and July. Gilligan and Wright (2013) provide a more in-depth review of the species, showing distribution from New Jersey to Louisiana, with flight times from late May—mid-August.

Over the past four years at my primary survey site in Bullock County, Alabama I have found this species to be an uncommon but regularly encountered species during the summer months. Below are a few notes from my observations on seasonal flight times and habitat for this species.

Due to the apparent rarity of the species throughout its range, I have made it a priority to photograph and submit an observation to iNaturalist for each nightly encounter in order to add as many data points as possible. While I haven't kept track of total numbers for each encounter, there have only been a few times where more than one was seen, with no more than 2 (at most 3?) on any given night.

To date I have photographed 27 individuals (plus one from another observer at the survey site) ranging from May 24-Aug 16. Peak flight period occurs in July, specifically the second half of July (although increases in survey effort during National Moth Week likely has influenced total observations during late July).

Screen Shot 2021-08-15 at 5.26.01 PM

Habitat at the Bullock County survey site consists of several hundred acres of mature pine savannah, with dense herbaceous understory (See photo below). The dominant canopy trees consist of Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata) and Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda). The area is burned regularly with prescribed fire on a two-year rotation, encouraging numerous species of grasses and herbacous plants in the understory. As I'm not currently aware of the habitat other specimens have been found in, no comparisons can be made.


In the future I'd like to focus sampling effort in other areas nearby in similar habitat to better understand the species' distribution in Alabama. No other locations have reported this species to iNaturalist yet—but based on these findings, areas of similar habitat would be worth checking in late July for at least a 2-3 consecutive nights as this species does not appear to be abundant even during peak flight times.

由使用者 johntrent johntrent2021年08月15日 23:51 所貼文 | 1 評論 | 留下評論


Identification tips for distinguishing between Cyclophora myrtaria (Waxmyrtle Wave) and Cyclophora packardi (Packard's Wave)

The illustrations below show the key features for separating these two similar species.

RANGE: With the exception of a few apparent extralimital records, C. myrtaria is restricted to the coastal plain regions of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts (US), while C. packardi is widespread throughout the eastern US.

UPDATE: C. myrtaria is now included in the iNat Computer Vision model as of the 12-Apr-2022 update.

Additional resources:
BOLD page for C. myrtaria
BOLD page for C. packardi



Additional Images for Comparison

Cyclophora packardi

Cyclophora myrtaria

由使用者 johntrent johntrent2021年08月11日 14:24 所貼文 | 2 評論 | 留下評論


Seasonal Chart for Alabama Moths

I've been experimenting with different ways to illustrate seasonal presence of moths uploaded to iNaturalist, loosely basing it on the eBird Bar Chart which shows weekly bird data throughout the year. Each month is divided into the following day lengths: 7 | 7 | 7 | 7-10, with the last week being longer to account for varying month lengths. So after downloading the data from the Moths of Alabama project and configuring observation dates to match the weekly periods, the following result provides a concise summary through October 18, 2019:

Moths of Alabama Seasonal Chart

Version 2 with numbers

-Current chart shows both adult and larval life stages. As far as I know there is no way to download annotation fields with the data exports.
-Updating is a bit of a hassle as it has to be recreated from a new download; perhaps there are ways via API tools to create something that auto-updates, but I know nothing about that type of programming.
-Sort is currently alphabetic on scientific name; Hodges number/taxonomic would probably be better so may try that in the future.

Overall I've enjoyed looking through it to compare seasonal patterns as well as look for errors in the data. Feel free to comment with suggestions.

@a24 @johnmorgan @friel @petervanzandt @satchison @a43560

由使用者 johntrent johntrent2019年10月28日 14:59 所貼文 | 14 評論 | 留下評論