Daily Archives: March 2, 2014

Selected Butterflies of North Dakota and Minnesota

Butterfly Book

A few years ago, before I became fascinated with moths, I collected video-images of some of the more common butterflies of northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.  I’m archiving these video-images here on the Dakota Naturalist with the hope that they may be of some educational value.  Enjoy!

Lycaenidae or Gossamer-wing Butterflies

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta)

Coral Hairstreak (Satyrium titus)

Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus)

Nymphalidae or Brush-footed Butterflies

Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Northern Pearly-eye (Lethe anthedon)

Eyed Brown (Lethe eurydice)

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis)

Little Wood Satyr (Megisto cymela)

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antipoda)

Northern Crescent (Phyciodes cocyta)

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

Question-mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

Checkered White (Pontia protodice)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Hesperiidae or Skipper Butterflies

Arctic Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon)

Ottoe Skipper (Hesperia ottoe)

Long Dash Skipper (Polites mystic)

Checkered Skipper (Purgus communis)

Larger Moths: Saturniidae and Sphingidae…

Sphinx 12Sphinx 11Sphinx 1Sphinx 6Sphinx 3BSphinx 4Sphinx 8BSphinx 10Sphinx 5Sphinx 7BSphinx 2BSphinx 9Sphinx 13

Our larger local moths certainly attract more attention. 

Larger species generally include the Giant Silkworm Moths (Family Saturniidae) and the Sphinx Moths (Family Sphingidae).  One of the largest and most common of our northeastern North Dakota moths is the Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus),  a member of the family Saturniidae.   The family Sphingidae, which includes the Sphinx Moths and Hawkmoths, is well-represented in our area.  We’ve at least eight genera of Sphinx Moths in our area, and there are probably many more genera to be found once one begins looking carefully.  Sphinx Moths are often mistaken for hummingbirds. 

All but one of the 13 moth species shown above are found on pages 254-269 of the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America.  The single specimen that isn’t included in the field guide is a western species, the Vashti Sphinx (Sphinx vashti).

I’m really looking forward to finding and photographing new local genera and species for these two families this Spring and Summer, 2014.

Moth Book

Our Local Acleris: A Consternating Genus…

Acleris 19Acleris 18Acleris 17Acleris 16 Acleris 15Acleris 14Acleris 13 Acleris 12Acleris 11BAcleris 11Acleris 9 Acleris 8Acleris 7Acleris 6 Acleris 5Acleris 4Acleris 3 Acleris 2Acleris 1

Moths in the genus Acleris are commonly referred to as ‘tortrix leafrollers’ and they are included in the family Tortricidae.  These small moths are seldom more than a centimeter in length, and so they are easily overlooked.

I think that I may have photographed as many as 7-11 different species of Acleris in northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, but I’ve actually only been able to identify perhaps half of these to the species-level using photographs alone.  That is because some (and perhaps many) Acleris species are notoriously variable (e.g., Acleris hasiana and Acleris variana), and so to correctly determine the species of any individual Acleris one must often either dissect the specimen, to examine the morphology of genitalia, or employ DNA bar-coding techniques.  I hope to spend more time photographing and collecting Acleris during the 2014 season.

Take a careful look at the 19 different images of Acleris shown above, and then try and match each one of these with images of Acleris species found on pages 84-89 of the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America.  How many different species of Acleris can you find among these 19 specimens?

Moth Book

Click on the link below to go to the Moth Photographers Guide to see more images of Acleris species.