Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day! Ben is taking a well-deserved day off, so we're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust! The following post was originally published on August 3, 2020.

When summer arrives, there's no shortage of large, beautiful moths that might show up to your porch light. The Imperial moth (Eacles imperialis) is a particularly striking example. These moths can have a wingspan of nearly seven inches!

There's a great deal of color variation between individual Imperial moths, but they're primarily yellow with blotches of brown, red, and purple. This coloration serves as excellent camouflage, and they virtually disappear among decomposing leaves on the forest floor!

There are a number of subspecies of Eacles imperialis, and it was a wide range; you can find these guys from Canada all the way down to Argentina! Unfortunately, the species is in a regional decline in some areas, particularly the northeast. Some New England states haven't recorded this moth for decades. It's believed that the decline is caused by a number of factors, including pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture. Another possible cause of decline in this region is the use of parasitoids to control the spread of invasive gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar dispar), which have been moving south for the last 100 years after their accidental introduction in Massachusetts. As so often happens, our attempts to correct our own mistakes can have unintended consequences.

ABOUT #BenInNature
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. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (www.cbtcares.com).

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!

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