2012 Summary

February 19, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
The following is a summary of what were, for me, some of the highlights of 2012. In total I recorded 201 macro moth species in my backyard not including a few moths that I still need to look at. In 2011 I only recorded 149 macro moths. This increase may,  in part, be due to the fact that I am identifying more moths but that certainly does not account for all of the increase. Not only were the numbers of recorded species high but they included a 1st and 3rd moth record for Alberta. They also included what may, at the time, have been a 2nd confirmed Alberta butterfly sighting. I’m not suggesting that these records are scientifically significant and the Douglas Fir Tussock Moth may well have been a traveller but they are, at least, interesting records and certainly exciting urban backyard records for me. Beyond the rarities and good moth numbers, 2012 was the first year that I have seen Silk Moths in Alberta.

Before getting into the summary I would like to thank everyone who has helped me identify some of the moths, macros or micros, with special thanks to Gary Anweiler without whom I’d still have very little confidence with most of my identification attempts…

Ok, here are a few highlights and photographs in chronological order.

26 April.  There was an interesting moth in the trap this morning! After some unsuccessful searching I asked Gary Anweiler for help. Gary identified it as a Twilight Moth (Lycia rachelae). I hadn't considered Geometridae at all! Live and learn :). Apparently this moth would normally finish its flight before full darkness. I had put the light trap out well before sunset so perhaps that is the trick. Either way this is definitely a new backyard moth for me and is my second new moth of the year bringing my backyard macro total to 197. At this rate 200 will be a breeze. Thanks again to Gary for the info'.

Twilight Moth (Lycia rachelae)
Twilight Moth (Lycia rachelae)
18th May.  While in the Twin Butte area in Southern Alberta. I picked up three new moth species when we arrived at our cabin before it was dark! This included two Glover's Silkmoths (Hyalophora gloveri), a species that I've been waiting to see for a number of years!
Glover's-Silkmoth-(Hyalophora gloveri)
Glover's-Silkmoth-(Hyalophora gloveri)














26th June.  Just 6 moths of 6 species in the traps last night. However, one of these moths was a Bilobed Looper (Megalographa biloba). This appears to be a very early sighting as the previous early record for this moth is August! The last time I recorded this species, which was only the 3rd record for Alberta, was in October 2010.

 Bilobed Looper (Megalographa biloba)
 Bilobed Looper (Megalographa biloba)














29th June.  There was a Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) butterfly in my bait trap which, apparently, was only the second confirmed sighting for Alberta.  Surprisingly, this was also the first butterfly I had found in my recently acquired bait trap!  Hopefully this augurs well for the future…
Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
5th July.  This is my first Hooktip moth and a nice fresh looking specimen!
Arched Hooktip Moth (Drepana arcuata)
Arched Hooktip Moth (Drepana arcuata)














14th July.   We are staying in a cabin not far Waterton Provincial Park in Southern Alberta. Last night there was very loud and spectacular storm so I was not expecting much in or around the moth trap. At 11:50pm my wife went to the window to check that the car was locked. I then heard her saying "There's a big moth on the side of the trap". I have to say that I replied rather incredulously, "How big is big?" Anyway, I got up to have a look and much to my amazement there was a Polyphemus Moth on the side of the trap! I hadn't seen any Silk moths until this year and this was my second, having seen a Glover's Silk moth earlier in the year at the same location. Well, as you can imagine, I've been eating humble pie all day and will have to believe my wife next time she says "there's a large moth on the side of the trap"!

Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus)
Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus)








Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus)












19th Sept. This appears to be a very early sighting for Bilobed Looper (Megalographa biloba) in Alberta as the previous early record for this moth is August! The last time I recorded this species, which was only the 3rd record for Alberta, was in October 2010.

Bilobed Looper (Megalographa biloba)
Bilobed Looper (Megalographa biloba)













                                                                                            
20th September.  There was a new Lymantriidae, Douglas Fir Tussock Moth (Orgyia pseudotsugata) on the wall behind the light trap. This appears to be the first record of a Douglas Fir Tussock Moth for Alberta.  Apparently, this is not an entirely unexpected record as it was thought that it might occur in the western mountain region of Alberta in association with its host, Douglas-fir, especially during outbreak years.



Douglas Fir Tussock Moth (Orgyia pseudotsugata)









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