Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ceratomia undulosa - variation on a theme

Even within a single species of moth, there can be a great deal of variation in markings and colouring.  Here are some images of C. undulosa that I've captured recently, showing how much they differ. C. undulosa has the common name of the "Waved Sphinx" moth, as a result of its wavy-lined markings.

The larvae feed on ash, oak and other woody species, but the adults do not feed.

This image is an example of a clearly marked individual with all the expected wavy lines and the white reniform spots on the forewings.  This one is relatively easy to identify using standard field guides.

By comparison, this next individual is quite dark, which makes the white spots more distinct.  You can still clearly see the wavy lines and the checkered edges of the forewings.  Despite its differences, it's still relatively easy to identify this moth as C. undulosa.
This individual was waiting for me this morning.  It was actually a little larger than the other two I'd photographed, and confounded me for a while on the ID, until I received some help from an expert on Bug Guide.  This, too, is C. undulosa.  However, this individual is very faintly marked.  You can scarcely see any of the expected wavy lines, and the checkered wing edge is absent.  The white reniform spots are there, but only very faintly. The darker slash marks on the wings are a helpful identifier, but without the other markings, I was really stymied by this one.  Next time I see a different individual in this species, hopefully I'll be able to identify it!

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