What moths do at night

Because we see moths at lights or resting quietly somewhere during the day, it's easy to forget that many of them sip nectar just like their butterfly cousins. Here are two that visited my butterfly bushes on August 31.

The first one is Feltia tricosa/subgothica. This moth is either tricosa or subgothica. I'm told on good authority that a researcher can determine which species if the specimen is a male and he or she examines the antennae under sufficient magnification. Therefore an photograph, even a really good one, isn't adequate.

The second moth never stopped beating its wings. I got a focus lock and snapped a pic. The flash, lasting perhaps a thousandth of a second, turned the blur of the wings into something useful for identification. The moth is Allagrapha aerea, one of the Noctuid loopers.

Here's a photo of a resting Alagrapha aerea that I took in September 2012. If you examine the forewing of both moths you can show that they are the same species, but you'll look in vain on the flying moth for the dorsal tuft on the thorax of the resting moth. When it flies, the scales on the thorax lie flat.