Called the sulphur pearl in its native Europe and a carrot seed moth in North America,

Sitochroa palealis was first reported in the U.S. in 2002.

But we just met, the two of us, hanging in the grass of national moth week.

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Lines of living geometry provide sufficient pause to discover, instead of a butterfly,

two of a kind of hoop-skirted moth: Chalcoela iphitalis, the sooty-winged chalcoela,

whose caterpillars hatch in paper wasp nests, feed on the host wasp’s larvae,
occupy then vacant cells for their own metamorphosis, and emerge to resume the circle all over.

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an ancient sphinx long ago posed the riddle
whose answer all who heard were already living.

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More recent wisdom emboldens one to “live the questions now
so to grow and embody the answers tomorrow.

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These days, by Little Crum Creek, a Nessus sphinx moth (Amphion floridensis)
suspends the lesson between a beckoning lilac and its transfixed observer,

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unfurling a feeder toward ephemeral blooms before the season passes.

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Occasionally mowing rouses a colorful escapade before the mower’s blades,
such as the black and orange blur of a banded tiger moth’s flight,*

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which often ends with a moth wedging itself head first
between blades of grass where it lands.

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And so, briefly, I detained this one for the simple reason
of sharing the lively colors of a coming season.

*Reportedly moths of the Apantesis genus can be difficult to distinguish. But I’m winging it here and identifying this one as the banded tiger moth (Apantesis vittata) because of the solid black border of the hindwing (differentiating it from the often spotted black border of the harnessed tiger moth, Apantesis phalerata).  As always, corrections welcome!

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Beside the compost, under the crabapple, beneath the pin oak,
barely the size of a leaf flake–clepsis peritana, the garden tortrix moth.

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Before a Philadelphia gardener introduced China’s tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) to America in the eighteenth century,  ancestors of this colorful moth (Atteva aurea) likely remained in their native Florida and other points south.

But as tree-of-heaven spread, so did the moths, assuming the tree’s name when their caterpillars adopted its leaves as a food source.

Here now, not far from where Ailanthus altissima was introduced over 200 years ago, the autumnal pattern of an Ailanthus webworm moth complements bright clusters of white snakeroot along Little Crum Creek.

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Plodding uphill we spot what was missed gliding down:
the large lace-border moth under an azalea leaf.

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