November 12, 2020
Ben here with today's #BenInNature update! Regular readers of these nature posts know that I'm a big fan of cool-looking moths, and the harnessed tiger moth (Apantesis phalerata) is a fine example! The harnessed tiger moth can be found throughout most of the eastern half of the U.S. and is fairly common within its range. In the south, the adults are usually on the wing from April through September. This one apparently didn't get the memo, however, as I found it on October 12, exactly one month ago today!
These moths are members of the family Erebidae, which is one of the largest families of moths in the world -- in more ways than one. Not only does the family contain a large number of species, but it also includes some very big moths, including the black witch moth Ascalapha odorata, which is one of the largest moths in the U.S.
If you'd like to see these beautiful moths at your own home, you don't have to do too much to attract them. The larvae feed on clover, dandelions, and other common plants. If someone gives you a hard time about not mowing your lawn, you can just tell them you're cultivating a prime habitat for Apantesis phalerata and they will probably fall silent and wander away.
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends.
NEW: TRIVIA CHALLENGE
You've seen the posts. You've learned the facts. Now, it's time to prove you are a #BenInNature Mega Fan! The museum's education team has developed the #BenInNature Trivia Challenge to identify the most devoted fans out there! Everyone who successfully answers each trivia question correctly will be congratulated by having your own nature selfie posted to the museum's #BenInNature Mega Fan Photo Album on the official VMNH Facebook page! Learn more and download the trivia challenge today by visiting www.vmnh.net/research-collections/beninnature-trivia-challenge.
NATURE PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONS
If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!