31 May 2010

Like a Moth to a . . . Porch Light

We get a lot of moths out here in the country, but there's so much other wildlife that I haven't paid them much attention until now.

Last I night I happened to notice that there were a lot of fat, pale moths on the screen door, so I decided to have a closer look.

Of course, you can't see much from inside the screen. Our screen door has those latches that snap shut with a bang, so I had to be reeeeeally careful when I opened it and crept outside.

Some work on the ol' web, and luckily this is a pretty distinctive moth, and I was able to figure out what kind it is. At first I thought it was the evening primrose moth (Schinia florida), which is very similar in colour and shape, but I know that insect species can be very difficult to tell apart, and my moth has a distinctly different pattern on its wings, even if the colours are the same.

So I kept looking. This gaily decorated fellow turns out to be Dryocampa rubicunda, the rosy maple moth. Pretty much their entire lifecycle centres around the maple tree, so it make sense that we have lots of these moths since we have a lot of maples. If you're interested, you can read more on the Bug Guide, or Wikipedia.

While I was out in the dark trying to get some good photos of D. rubicunda, I spotted another handsome fellow.

He's an attractive wood-grain brown and both smaller and less furry than the maple moths. There were a couple of them on the deck, and they both sat with their abdomens curving straight up.

The, as I was getting ready to go back inside to warm up my chilly toes, a big, furry brown moth landed on the screen next to the maple moths. Since I had the camera out already, I took his picture, too, though being dark brown, it was hard to get a decent shot.

Both of these brown moths are as yet unidentified. I'll give it a shot later today, though I don't have high hopes as there are an awful lot of brown night-flying moths in the world, even in this small area of it.

We also have a number of mammalian visitors. We have a resident vole who has an extensive burrow conveniently located near one of the bird seed spots. There is a pair of chipmunks (perhaps not a mated pair, but two of them, anyway) and at least one red squirrel. A few snowshoe hares are regular visitors, and then one day, this cutie wandered into the yard:

He's a woodchuck or marmot (Marmota monax) and would no doubt be a pest if we had a garden. He seemed quite happy to toodle around the yard munching on weeds and didn't seem too concerned when I went out on the deck to get a clearer shot.

And just yesterday, I was about to go outside during a break in the drizzle, to have a quick turn around the property, and found this almost right outside the front door:

He sat there quite content until he saw me out of the corner of his eye, and then he took off for the woods. I didn't get a good enough look from the right angle to tell if he was a small snowshoe hare or not. I don't have a good book on Nova Scotia mammals (just one on animal tracks), so I don't know what other lagomorphs there might be around these parts.

So, I need a book on Nova Scotia mammals, and one on Nova Scotia insects (or at least moths, butterflies, dragonflies and beetles), and probably soon one on Nova Scotia wildflowers and plants. Like these, maybe:



Carol said...

As an Australian, animals like woodchucks are pretty exotic, and I grew up with the "How much wood can a woodchuck chuck?" rhyme, so I was thrilled to bits a few years ago when I came across one on a visit to the US. You have a great collection of wildlife around your home and I love your photos. I'm also very taken with your animal drawings - they have great charm.

Niko said...

Thanks, Carol! I've got some ideas for artists books using various drawings and photos of our wildlife. Of course, first I have to finish up a bunch of projects that I'm partway through!