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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The sphinx with a pom-pom

Eric spotted this cool moth near an outdoor light in Bodega Bay tonight (19 December 2017).  [Click on the picture for a larger version.]

The moth has a somewhat unusual appearance, so if you need some orientation, here you go:

The moth is facing left.  The first pair of legs is stretched out the legs are covered with scales, making the legs look very furry.  There are dense scales concentrated on top of the head, giving the moth an "upswept hairdo."  And there is a tuft of long scales at the tip of the abdomen, forming a little "pom-pom" (at the far right).

I love the colors of this moth — silvery gray, pale lavender (with small dark flecks), narrow white stripes, and a garnet highlight near the outer tip of the wing.  Wow!

Unfortunately, I don't have access to my moth identification guides right now.  So if you have any thoughts about the identity of this moth, I'd love to hear about it!

P.S.  Thanks to Eric for spotting this beauty on the wall as we walked by!

ADDENDUM (20 December 2017): Lynn wrote to suggest that this moth could be a species in the genus Clostera.  That looks like a good match!  I'll keep working on it to see if we can figure out which species.  Thanks, Lynn!



Mary Keefe said...

Love him!

David A. Hofmann said...

I agree with Lynn. I've looked in "Moths of Western North American" by Jerry A. Powell and Paul A. Opler and the moth you photographed matches Clostera apicalis on Plate 33. I also checked out Clostera apicalis online in "Butterflies and Moths of North America" and all photos match yours. And their list of Sonoma County moths show Clostera apicalis. Common names used are Willow Nestmaker, and Red-marked Tentmaker.

Jackie Sones said...

Thanks, David! I knew you'd be on it. After skimming some photos online, I couldn't quite decide between Clostera apicalis and Clostera albosigma. I need to find out which features separate them. It's great to know a little more about this group of moths!

:) Jackie