Buck Moth (Hemileuca Maia)
In Albany’s Pine Bush recently Daisy and I came across a pair of moths that were, we assume, mating. Neither of us had ever seen such a moth, nor had we ever seen any moths mating so it was, um, interesting. Anyway, I sent some pictures over to Patrick and he quickly responded with an identification which was a good thing as I never would have figured this one out on my own.
The Buck Moth (Hemileuca Maia) is a diurnal moth that emerges in late fall or early winter. Their host plants for their caterpillars are a variety of oaks, which makes sense, seeing as the Pine Bush is loaded with Scrub Oaks like the one below.
According to Butterflies and Moths of North America the Buck Moth emerges in the morning, mates in the early afternoon, which is when we observed the loving above, and lays eggs (well, the females do anyway) in the late afternoon in rings around the twigs of the host.
The male of the Buck Moth is easy to distinguish; it is smaller and has a red-orange tipped abdomen. While we were watching one pair the male squirted a bunch of unidentified liquid on the ground, which I think might have been related more to the fact that we were too close than anything to do with the mating. Not that we looked too closely after that. Anyway, enjoy the rest of the pictures of these most interesting and lovely-colored creatures.
And if you want to see the rather ugly caterpillar of the Buck Moth, click here.