Archivos de diario de noviembre 2015

14 de noviembre de 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

Schaus' Tussock Moth, Halysidota schausi (Arctiinae), 1st iNat records for a LRGV specialty†

Delightful Donacaula Moth, Donacaula melinella (Crambidae), 1st TX record on BG and 1st LRGV record of a widespread moth,

Okra Leafworm Moth, Anomis illita (Erebidae), 1st LRGV records for a moth of the s.e. US†

Bendisodes aeolia (Erebidae), 1st & 2nd iNat photos, about 6 photos of living specimens, known from only two counties in U.S.†

Helia agna (Erebidae), about 4th living individual of a LRGV/tropical specialty†

Isogona natatrix (Erebidae), 2nd living individual of a LRGV specialty†

Isogona scindens (Erebidae), known in U.S. only from TX and FL†

Isogona snowi (Erebidae), 1st iNat record for U.S. for a South Texas specialty†

Matigramma obscurior (Erebidae), about 4th living individual, 2nd iNat record

Chlorochlamys appellaria (Geometridae), about 2nd TX record of this southwestern looper

Chloropteryx nordicaria (Geometridae), 2nd U.S. photographed record†

Psamatodes trientata (Geometridae), about 4th living individual (if correctly IDed)†

Rindgea flaviterminata (Geometridae), 1st iNat record of this LRGV specialty†

Streptopalpia minusculalis (Pyralidae), 1st LRGV and 3rd TX record for a FL/Caribbean specialty†

Bactra furfurana (Tortricidae), 1st LRGV and BG record for TX of a widespread species†

Not to mention other insect groups:

Brownsville Short-winged Grasshopper, Melanoplus cameronis (Acrididae), 1st iNat photo of this LRGV specialty†

Atrypanius irrorellus (Cerambycidae), 1st Hidalgo record, 4th living individual (BG)†

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 (?)†

† 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.
Publicado el noviembre 14, 2015 05:38 TARDE por gcwarbler gcwarbler | 22 observaciones | 5 comentarios | Deja un comentario