Monday, March 31, 2014

Another tuft customer

Although the small, tufted moth was unusual, it is not the strangest tufted moth that I have seen.  That dubious honor goes to the common looper moth (Autographa precationis) that I encountered last fall. 

A common looper moth (Autographa precationis).
From above, the common looper moth has an odd shape, but it doesn't seem all that impressive.  However, viewing the moth from the front reveals an elaborately curved tuft crowning the moth's head.

The common looper moth from the front.
The tufts don't stop there either.  The common looper moth has a row of three tufts down its back and the raised corners of its wings form what looks like a small, fourth tuft.

A profile view of the common looper moth.
Despite its name, this creature did not look much like a common moth to me -- and if it had been on some tree bark instead of the window, it might not have looked like a moth at all!

Friday, March 28, 2014

One tuft customer

Frequently, I will approach a leaf to investigate a mysterious object resting on its surface... only to discover a bit of debris that has fallen from some other plant.  However, every once in a while, my curiosity is rewarded.

Just some debris on a leaf?
The speck on the leaf shown above, although not very promising from a distance, turned out to be one of those rare objects that merited a closer inspection.

A small moth with a large tuft.
It was a small moth that had managed to obscure its shape by tucking in its legs and folding back its antennae.  Another unusual feature that stood out (quite literally) from the moth's otherwise streamlined appearance was a dark brown tuft of scales behind its head.  As I studied the moth from a variety of angles, it began to attract some more intimate attention.

An ant approaches the moth.
An ant came up and used its antennae to feel the moth.  For a moment, neither the ant nor the moth made a move and I wondered if the ant would attack.  Then the moment passed and the ant continued on its way, leaving the moth behind as if it really were just an uninteresting bit of debris.