A Strange Moth at the Post Office

Another example of how the naturalist may find something interesting wherever he/she is. At the post office I noticed this strange moth on the front glass door, obviously attracted by lights the night before.

Thanks to Bob Perkins for identifying it for me. It is the spotted Apatelodes, Apatelodes torrefacta ., a species related to the Old World silk moths and found from S Canada to Florida.

Two things struck me about this moth: first it is very well camouflaged but second it seems to have a defensive pattern as well. When I picked it up, it raised its abdomen which in conjunction with two eyespots connected by a dark patch plus the raised “body” seem to provide a mimc of a snake or scary critter which birds might shy away from.

The caterpillar is considered poisonous but not the adult. The function of the “puffy” leg patches is unclear. The adult moths do not feed.

So when you are running errands do not forget to watch for critters!

Bill Dunson

About Bill Dunson

Bill Dunson, born in rural Georgia, skipped 12th grade and went directly to Yale. Bill subsequent-ly received a PhD in Zoology from the University of Michigan, studying softshell turtles. Bill is Professor Emeritus of Pennsylvania State University thanks to a career spent entirely at that institution, teaching and doing research on the physio-logical ecology and ecotoxiciology of reptiles, amphibians and fish. Always curious about nature, Bill has dedicated his life to learning and sharing his knowledge with others. He has served on many advisory boards here in Southwest Florida to preserve the water that gives life to our region.

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