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Black-waved Flannel Moth - Megalopyge crispata - male

Black-waved Flannel Moth - Megalopyge crispata - Male
Snowhill Rd N of Cabin Branch Creek, Durham County, North Carolina, USA
June 1, 2004
Found in a lighted breezeway. This individual has stronger markings than the individual I observed previously at the same location (July 7, 2003). It almost has the orange tinge on thorax and forewings of Megalopyge opercularis, the Southern Flannel Moth. Comparing several images of this species, the darker-marked ones have much more feathery antennae, so are males. (I think that's a safe bet with moths.) So it seems the difference in markings is a sex difference.

I'm constantly amazed by the many forms moths take.

amazing moths... why?
Yes, it is amazing the variety of colors and shapes in nocturnal critters. I guess the usual explanation is that there is strong selection pressure due to predation by vertebrates, especially birds. Birds have great eyesight and good ability to develop a search image of a food item. Once a moth pattern has been "made" by a particular bird, all other moths of that species must be vulnerable. I've certainly seen heavy predation at my favorite moth site, a new CVS drugstore with massive textured brick walls lit up all night by floodlights. Just recently, Grackles and Mockingbirds have started cleaning out everything at dawn. This spring and summer I have to get there real early or there is nothing. Last summer I could get there any time and there would still be lots on the walls. (However, I did not start visiting until mid-summer last year. Birds are feeding fledglings right now and may be extra needy.)

Well, enough sleepless musings...
Patrick Coin
Durham, North Carolina

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