• Ello Sphinx caterpillar (Erinnyis ello). Boca Raton, FL, January 29, 2015.

    Large moths

    By / April 1, 2015

    Over the years I’ve found some big moths on the property, both as larvae and as adults. When I say big, I mean big enough that people notice them, not the little tiny guys that are present by the hundreds in the grasses and flower beds. I’m talking sphinx moths, family Sphingidae, also known as hawk… Read more

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    Eumaeus atala butterfly, at long last

    By / November 22, 2012

    I have a new puzzle on my hands. I don’t know of any places in the neighborhood with enough coontie to support the Atala Blue butterfly (Eumaeus atala), but I’ve got one “sleeping” on my pool deck: It’s been there all morning, from 8 a.m. when I got the right profile above, to noon, when… xylophanes_sp_20120126

    A second sphinx moth: Xylophanes pluto

    By / February 15, 2012

    Last year I found an adult sphinx moth, Enyo lugubris, on our pool fence. It was the first sphinx moth I’d found on our new property, and it sure brightened up my morning. The other evening, as I was fighting another skirmish in my never-ending war against the scale bugs on my firebush, I uncovered… mothra_dorsal_2011112

    New backyard lepidopteran: Enyo lugubris

    By / November 28, 2011

    City code here in Boca requires that if you have a pool, you also have a fence to keep toddlers from toddling in. Actually, it requires two lines of defense: a fence to keep neighborhood people out of the pool, then another fence to keep residents out of the pool. This pool fence is usually… Read more

  • anticarsia_gemmatalis_detail_20111102

    New backyard moth: Anticarsia gemmatalis

    By / November 18, 2011

    I was cleaning the pool deck the other day and noticed a very odd moth flying around trying to get away from the concrete and glass of the built environment and back into the natural world where it would be much more at home. As you can see, it made it: And it has a… Read more

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    Zebra Heliconian larvae

    By / October 28, 2011

    Back around Labor Day I wrote a couple of short pieces about the various egg-laying episodes I’ve seen on the hybrid passionvine in our back yard. This particular plant is a cross between our native Passiflora incarnata and a Mexican variety, thus explaining why our “3-lobed” native has 5-lobed leaves. The star of the September… Read more

  • danaus_gillipus_20111026

    Late October

    By / October 27, 2011

    It’s late October, and in South Florida that means it’s going to be either windy, or hot, or both. Today we’ve got a bit of both: a steady 7–8 mph east wind, with gusts up to 14 mph, and a temperature of 83°F. Mercifully, the humidity is relatively low (under 60%), so the heat index isn’t… Read more

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    Plume moth

    By / October 19, 2011

    Last week while I was out taking pictures of the muhly grass that’s just now beginning to flower (a sure sign of fall here in “seasonless” Florida), I ran across a flying beast that introduced me to a new lepidopteran family: the plume moths, Pterophoridae. These unusual little (and I mean little—these guys are tiny!… Read more

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    Backyard butterfly: Cassius Blue

    By / July 25, 2011

    One great thing about working from home is that it’s relatively easy to see wonderful things on your lunch break—that is, if you’ve planted the right backyard habitat. Last week I wrote about the butterfly-attracting qualities of Heliotropium angiospermum, or Scorpion’s-Tail, which is conveniently located between my pool and the backyard fence. Back then, I… Read more

  • Pearl crescent's underwing, showing the diagnostic "crescent."

    Early morning lepidoptera

    By / July 19, 2011

    Was out early last Sunday mowing (with a reel mower, no motors) the lawn (all volunteer plants, not watered except by the rain) and watching the boy play in the sandbox when I noticed this striking little butterfly on our good old Florida native scorpion’s-tail (Heliotropium angiospermum, which is a wonderful little plant that I… Read more

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