Enchoria lacteata (Packard) is a relatively small moth with forewings measuring only 0.9-1.1 cm in length. Adults have a remarkable zig-zag pattern on forewings made up of various shades of brown and buff. They are diurnal (daytime) fliers and emerge from late February to May. Sightings are often in grassy areas or edges of moist woodlands. Larval host plants are various species of miner’s lettuce, Claytonia (Portulacaceae). Check out the following link for more information on miner’s lettuce. It’s edible! https://www.ediblewildfood.com/miners-lettuce.aspx
Enchoria lacteata crawling onto my pruning tool.
Enchoria lacteata between my work glove and pruning tool
POWELL, JERRY A., and PAUL A. OPLER. Moths of Western North America. 1st ed., University of California Press, 2009.
I love my catmint! The deer don’t like it, but pollinators absolutely DO! Every year, I wait in anticipation to see what visits the tiny purple-indigo flowers. I’ve had everything from hummingbirds to bumblebees, moths, and butterflies. Today, I took two short clips of the Pale Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio eurymedon) visiting the blooms. There have been as many as seven or eight fluttering about at a time.
I keep hoping to see my very favorite of the pollinators visiting the catmint, but have to make a point of going around dusk. It’s been a few years, but the catmint is also a favorite of the elusive hummingbird moth (Hemaris diffinis). Here is one I photographed in June of 2016. Also known as the Snowberry Clearwing moth, these fuzzy, large-bodied but nimble fliers are also called Bumblebee or Hawk moths.
Hemaris diffinis on Catmint photo by Cynthia Brast June 1, 2016. San Juan Island, WA
Hummingbird moth (Hemaris diffinis) on Catmint
A water trough and cool morning temperatures equate with a desperate situation if your wings are wet and they aren’t the inflatable kind that keep you afloat. I rescued two, soon to be drowned, little specimens yesterday morning and can tell you, they were “happy” to dry off in the sunshine ☀️ .
The first rescue was a delicate, Green Lacewing in the family Chrysopidae. Lacewings are in the insect order Neuroptera which means nerve-winged insect. It is named for the intricate, sheer, net-like pattern of its wings. They are valued because they prey on garden and orchard pests insects like aphids. The intriguing thing about this specimen (make sure to pay close attention to frames 0.22 and 0.24 in the video) was its reaction to my voice when I stopped Millhouse the cat from interfering with my cinematography. The Lacewing appears to have a look of surprise when it hears me.
The second rescue from the water trough is the beautiful, iridescent green cuckoo bee you see in the video below. Cuckoo bees are actually wasps in the insect order Hymenoptera, and family Chrysididae. While they are pollinators in that adults seek out nectar for food from flowers, they are named, like the cuckoo bird, after their habit of seeking out nests of other wasp and bee species to steal food, or the life of developing larvae as a host for their own young. Never-mind that part of the life cycle of this bee. It is truly a gem, glittering in the sunshine…a jewel worn by a new spring blossom in the garden.
Alucitidae or “many-plume moth” ~ Distinguished from other families of moths by their delicate wings, fringed like the “feathers of a peacock.” They are only 3-13 mm long, gray or brown in color, and lack abdominal tympana. They have filiform antennae, a well-developed proboscis and are nocturnal. About 130 species have been described but there are just three species in America north of Mexico. Read more about them in Moths of Western North America by Jerry A. Powell and Paul A. Opler.