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The Continuing Search for Psectraglaea Carnosa: Unraveling the Secrets of a Rare Moth

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

P. carnosa is a rare moth species with remarkable leaf mimicry abilities, During the fall when it blends with the red and pink hues of Vaccinium leaves. This moth has long captivated the curiosity of researchers and enthusiasts alike. P. carnosa primarily inhabits scrub oak barrens. Notably, it exhibits an unusual flight season, with most sightings occurring in late September through October. Unlike many other fall moths in the northeast it is attracted to light sources rather than sugar bait. An intriguing feature is its nocturnal behaviors that it begins flying between 11:00 PM through 3:00 AM.

This species is known to inhabit specific ecosystems in northwestern Pennsylvania, including bogs with Vaccinium and oaks, as well as oak barrens. Oak barrens, in this context, refer to open woodlands characterized by oak trees and the unique flora and fauna adapted to these conditions. P. carnosa has been observed to favor certain larval hosts, including Vaccinium species and Quercus species. Additionally, it has been successfully reared in captivity on a diet that includes blueberry, chokeberry, and cherry.

In the pursuit of understanding and studying Psectraglaea carnosa, Gregory Stanko and Dr. Kevin Keegan, from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, set out to find the moth. On October 25, 2023, they set up collecting traps in Forest County, Pennsylvania, hoping to document this elusive moth. The weather conditions were perfect with cloudy skies and temperatures ranging from 60-55 degrees. However, despite the attraction of various moth species to collecting traps, P. carnosa remained elusive. Over the years, Gregory Stanko has encountered P. carnosa during annual searches, with notable sightings on September 29, 1999, and October 6, 2021.

Lets see what happens next year!!!!!

Special thanks to Teá Montagna for the images of P. carnosa, she was fortunate to have several specimens show up to her light trap on October 12th of this year!

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