Monday, July 02, 2007

Black and Blue moth with an Orange Head on a Blue Flower

After living several decades in the “burbs”, one tends to lose touch with, and at the same time become more aware of the huge diversity of plants and insects that exists in the country side. At our previous home in the Ottawa suburbs, we were exposed to a very limited variety of insects, including mainly ants and flies, wasps, some bees and the odd butterfly, crickets and very few mosquitoes. I would think that pesticides had a role to play in that, after all that is what they were intended for, were they not? Today I came across this orange-headed black moth with an iridescent blue body. With the wings closed it looks like an iridescent blue patch draped on its shoulders. When we first moved here we found many of these moths in our house as we were building. According to “Bugs of Ontario” ISBN 1-55105-287-3, this is a Virgninia Ctenucha [Ctenucha virginica].

Today I found several of these moths feeding on flowers of this blue plant called blueweed, [Echium vulgare L.]. According to “Weeds of Canada” ISBN 0-88864-311-X, this was introduced from North Africa as a garden plant. It was used as an antidote for snake bites. The moth was feeding off the flower nectar as were a number of bumble bees.

This plant along with a number of other unusual weeds emerged on the weeping bed of our septic system where topsoil was brought in, hence the likely seed source of this plant. It doesn’t occur anywhere else on the property.