Most of us are familiar
with the night moths that come to the light outside our window or around
the porch light. A neighbor here above Sulfur Creek called them 'candle
dancers.' Most of those moths are a soft brown or white and not very interesting
looking. My grandmother used to call them 'dusty millers' because if you
caught one it would leave a dust-like powder on your hands.
Someone told me
that those night moths are the adult of corn worms, but I find that
hard to believe since there are a lot more of those moths than there
is corn. I'm not sure what the caterpillar stages of most moths look
like, but I do know I have seen some pretty interesting moths around
One of my favorites
is what I call the 'Indian blanket' moth. When it lights, it looks for
the world like a petal off a Galardia daisy or Indian blanket wild flower.
The ends of the folded wings are regularly notched like the flower edge.
The colors are banded just like the flower and the head and antenna
of the moth are almost transparent so it can't be seen easily. Other
pretty's are the green moths. I've seen several sizes of those from
tiny ones that could sit on a dime and not cover it, to the tropical
visitors that cover your hand. They come in different shades of green
depending on what their caterpillar stage eats I think.
Another group of
interestingly disguised moths is the bark moths. These mimic the bark
on trees and will be very noticeable if they get into the house around
the lights. Some look just like bark on a chinaberry or other smooth
barked trees while others look for the world like a piece of bark off
a live oak. Some are like fungus and striped black and white. I heard
one time that the moths that are the most noticeable are those that
taste bad or are actually poisonous.
Most of the coloration
is for protection from predators when the moth is in its adult stage.
In the caterpillar stage, some of them look as if they are trying to
attract attention. The green tomato worm has red and blue knobs on it
that make it easy to spot. They sure can wipe out a stand of tomato
plants in a hurry.
Of course people
can really make a dent in plants and their fruit too. Things are now
starting to ripen like grapes and figs that are fun to eat out of hand,
but that's another story.
Copyright 1986,1996, 1998 by Sulfur Creek Enterprises, Austin, Texas