Päiväkirja-arkisto kohteelle marraskuu 2015

14. marraskuuta 2015

The Element of Discovery

The recent excursion of several of us to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas offered a particularly good example of how we citizen scientists (even though I’m a retired professional) can push the boundaries of knowledge on many faunal groups. Since we were palling around with a cadre of distinguished authorities like Ro Wauer and Jim Brock, the predominant focus of the group naturally was on butterflies, but as iNatters, we were documenting just about anything and everything that came into focus*. I am grateful to all of the following and others for their companionship and enthusiasm on this field trip: @kueda, @robberfly, @maractwin, @greglasley, @krancmm, @upupamartin, @mksexton, @cullen, and particularly Jim & Lynne Weber for prompting all of us to come along.

Given my particular interests, I turned my attention to moths whenever the opportunity arose. This was particularly the case for the “blacklighting” efforts (actually with a mercury vapor lamp) at a residential location where several of the group were staying, and at one particular wall at the HQ of Santa Ana NWR. I knew that the LRGV moth fauna would include any number of species which would be new to me and that some number of them would be “Valley specialties” but the outcome exceeded my expectations. It’s not that the moth fauna of the LRGV is unknown to the lepidopterist world; quite the contrary. Through the efforts of early collectors and in recent decades that of Ed Knudson, Charles Bordelon, and others, we have a pretty good idea of the moths in the LRGV. Diversity patterns parallel those of birds and butterflies with a great many tropical species that enter into the United States just in the southern tier of counties in Texas.

The exciting aspect of this to me is that we had the opportunity to document living examples of so many species which have heretofore been known only from collected specimens, i.e. they’ve almost never been “seen” or photographed alive. In no particular order, here are some of those rarely photographed species:

Agaraea semivitrea (Arctiinae), about 3rd living individual, 1st iNat U.S. record
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2370267

Schaus' Tussock Moth, Halysidota schausi (Arctiinae), 1st iNat records for a LRGV specialty†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2375497

Delightful Donacaula Moth, Donacaula melinella (Crambidae), 1st TX record on BG and 1st LRGV record of a widespread moth,
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2377192

Okra Leafworm Moth, Anomis illita (Erebidae), 1st LRGV records for a moth of the s.e. US†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2370006

Bendisodes aeolia (Erebidae), 1st & 2nd iNat photos, about 6 photos of living specimens, known from only two counties in U.S.†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2355777
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2376210

Helia agna (Erebidae), about 4th living individual of a LRGV/tropical specialty†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2355709

Isogona natatrix (Erebidae), 2nd living individual of a LRGV specialty†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2355744

Isogona scindens (Erebidae), known in U.S. only from TX and FL†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2377200

Isogona snowi (Erebidae), 1st iNat record for U.S. for a South Texas specialty†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2376866

Matigramma obscurior (Erebidae), about 4th living individual, 2nd iNat record
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2370073

Chlorochlamys appellaria (Geometridae), about 2nd TX record of this southwestern looper
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2355857

Chloropteryx nordicaria (Geometridae), 2nd U.S. photographed record†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2377221

Psamatodes trientata (Geometridae), about 4th living individual (if correctly IDed)†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2379943

Rindgea flaviterminata (Geometridae), 1st iNat record of this LRGV specialty†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2376997

Streptopalpia minusculalis (Pyralidae), 1st LRGV and 3rd TX record for a FL/Caribbean specialty†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2370260

Bactra furfurana (Tortricidae), 1st LRGV and BG record for TX of a widespread species†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2370257

Not to mention other insect groups:

Brownsville Short-winged Grasshopper, Melanoplus cameronis (Acrididae), 1st iNat photo of this LRGV specialty†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2370077

Atrypanius irrorellus (Cerambycidae), 1st Hidalgo record, 4th living individual (BG)†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2370276

ADDENDUM: Here's another "convenient" rare species, photographed at George West on the way home:
Hypena vetustalis, 2nd photo of living specimen, 2nd Texas record (?)†
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2383509

† Pending confirmation of their IDs, these are all first iNaturalist observations.

  • Except birds. The avifauna was only peripherally examined, even by us hardcore birders among the group. Had we been more focused on that group, we might have chased such LRGV rarities as Whooping Crane, Blue-throated Hummingbird, Greater Pewee, and Pacific-coast Flycatcher among others, all of which were reported in/near localities that we visited. This brings up a whole other topic regarding the intensity of focus versus the breadth of focus, a topic for another journal entry perhaps.

Lähetetty 14. marraskuuta 2015 17:38 käyttäjältä gcwarbler gcwarbler | 22 havaintoa | 5 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti