Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter


from the April 19, 2009 Newsletter, issued from the Siskiyou Mountains west of Grants Pass, Oregon:

Not all lepidopterous species flitting about our flowering manzanitas are Painted Ladies, though maybe 90% are. You can see another visitor above.

After searching all through my Audubon butterfly field guide I just couldn't identify this insect. Here in Oregon my modem connection with the Internet is so slow that I can't enter online forums, so Bea in Ontario volunteered to upload the above picture to the ID-help forum at Bugguide.net and in just two or three hours someone gave her a name:

It wasn't a butterfly at all, but rather a moth, LITOCALA SEXSIGNATA. I can't find a common name for it, nor life history information, plus the few records of the species all appear to be in or near Arizona. Do we have a new species here? Is this the first time it's been recognized as taking nectar from a manzanita?

This isn't the first time I've confused a moth with a butterfly. Bea, who at first also was tricked, wrote that " ...when I was looking at its feelers I was looking to see if it had a round ball at the end, or hooked antennae like a skipper, and I just couldn't tell. I thought it was because the picture was unclear, but it was because they just weren't there! Usually moths have feathery antennae. Plus, usually moths only come out at night, but your little moth was a daytime moth and I read it even flies like a skipper!"