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 the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
This entry was posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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:
    http://bugguide.net/node/view/252/bgimage
    No matter, it’s a fortuitous and lovely image!

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