Like a Moth to...the Front Porch Light

Mar 7, 2017

Like a moth to a flame...

Except this moth headed not for a flame, but to a porch light. Our porch light.

And what a find.

It was a sea-green mottled moth that looked a lot like lichen. 

Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, and Bohart Museum of Entomology associate Greg Kareofelas of Davis identified it as a late-winter noctuid, one that simulates lichen.  Feralia februalis.

"It's expected this time of the year," noted Kareofelas.

It's a food plant specialist that feeds on oaks.

A Pacific Northwest website on moths indicates that it flies in oak forests in western Oregon in the early spring: "This species is narrowly endemic to the West Coast.  In Oregon, it is common in oak woodlands and mixed hardwood forests with oaks at low elevations west of the Cascades.  This species is considered to be management sensitive, depending on oaks as a larval food plant."

In the Pacific Northwest, "Feralia februalis is limited to western Oregon in our region," the website says. "Its range extends north to the Columbia River but it has yet to be found in adjacent Washington."

Its global range? "The range extends south through California where it occurs in the western part of the state to the Mexican border. It is also present in the northern Sierra Nevada."

One more thing: "It is nocturnal and comes readily to lights."

Yes and yes!