Photo of the Week – January 6, 2011

I saw these two moths in a restored prairie in eastern Nebraska last spring.  They formed a mirror image that was too perfect not to photograph.

While butterflies are typically more showy and get much more attention from biologists, moths make up a much larger part of the taxonomic family (Lepidoptera) the two share.  While these two are are exceptions, most moths are typically less colorful and better camouflaged than butterflies.  Because coloration is not always a dependable cue, the most reliable characteristic for telling a moth from a butterfly is that moths have fuzzy antennae and butterflies don’t.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is an ecologist and Eastern Nebraska Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. He supervises the management and restoration of approximately 4,000 acres of land in central and eastern Nebraska - primarily along the central Platte River. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press.
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3 Responses to Photo of the Week – January 6, 2011

  1. Rob Taylor says:

    They are beautiful! One thing that makes this not quite a “mirror image” are the antennae. While all moths have feather-like antennae, those of males (such as the one in the foreground) are broader and are highly adapted for sensing female phermones. Females (like the one in the background) have more slender antennae.

  2. James C. Trager says:

    These are one of the crocus geometer group, with nearly indiscernible species:

    No matter, it’s a fortuitous and lovely image!


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