Moth I.D.

Jim Mason jmason at
Mon Oct 26 15:31:11 EST 1998

The following came to me recently.  I figured the moth was Tetracis
crocallata.  I found the observation about where the moths were consistently
found resting to be very interesting.  Does anyone have any experience with
this species or has anyone seen similar preference for what might be called
"non-camouflaged perching behavior" in other moths?  Mr. Grametbauer
(gramet at also attached a jpeg image showing the moth on the
orchid.  I did not send this along because I figure the listserve would
reject it but would be happy to forward it to anyone who would like to see
it.  He says he is working on digitizing video of the same, so an mpeg or
avi may be coming also!
This past spring while checking up on a particularly large colony of pink
lady's-slipper orchids I'd found last year in the Cumberland Mountains of
upper East Tennessee, I noticed that some of the flowers had a single white
moth clinging to the front side of the blossom.  I saw perhaps 20 moths,
none of them feeding, flying or moving about, but just clinging motionless
upon the flowers.

The moths were pure white with a single narrow gold stripe on each fore
wing, running outward from near the back of the abdomen to just in front of
the tip of the wing. [ with wings at rest - Jim ]  I'd estimate them to be
an inch long and perhaps a
bit more than that across while at rest.  Their shape, again at rest, was
overall much like a sphinx moth, but the back edge of each wing had a broad
point near the center, giving the entire trailing edge of the moth a
scalloped appearance.

I thought that perhaps it was a coincidence that the
moths were on the lady's-slippers, so I searched for others on other
vegetation in the area as well as on tree trunks and ground litter, but
could find no others.  I returned to the site several days later to take
some photographs and was suprised to
see that the moths were still there.  As before, all of them were
motionless, and every one I could find was on a lady's-slipper blossom.

Jim Mason
jmason at

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