Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's New, Buckaroo?

Today, I met John Howard for a fall foray in Adams and Scioto counties. We met up with Jim McCormac and went searching for a short list of targets. One from the list was this beauty-the Buck Moth, Hemileuca maia.

Buck Moths can be found in October and November here in Ohio. The caterpillars feed on oak leaves, so Shawnee State Forest was the destination to look for them. While there, we ran into Dave Riepenhoff, who was also looking for the moths.

Male Buck Moth

We spotted one flying across the road. John Howard leapt into action. He quickly sprinted across the road, launching himself into the air like Michael Jordan for a slam dunk. With a tornadic whirl of his net, he captured the cunning beast. Then, with lightning fast reflexes, he whipped out three throwing stars and killed the trio of ninjas that were hiding nearby, saving us all from impending doom. Or maybe I just imagined that part. :)

John had caught a gorgeous male. The Buck Moth has beautiful black wings with a white band across the middle. This male also had red hair tufts on the abdomen and on its legs. We were all gathered around, admiring it for a bit, when a big female floated by. John easily caught her, as well. The female Buck Moth is quite a bit bigger than the male.

Female Buck Moth

The female was equally pretty. The scientific name "maia" is in reference to Greek mythology. Atlas's daughter, Maia, was considered to be exceptionally beautiful. This was my first time to see these moths in person and I was definitely in awe. She will lay eggs on an oak twig, encircling the twig with her eggs. These eggs will overwinter and the young caterpillars will hatch out in the spring.

One of my favorite things was the male's furry red booties. They reminded me of bright red Ugg Boots. Perhaps that is why the boots were made. Their creator saw a Buck Moth and thought how warm and furry its leggings must be. Yes, I am sure that is what happened. I was also intrigued with its antennae. They were super long and feathered. The males use these to sense the presence of the giant chick detectors. I know some guys that would like these, but would never wear them, because they wouldn't look cool.

Ugg Boots-inspired by Buck Moths. Another question answered by nature.

I hope you, too, will have an opportunity to see this amazing moth. They should be flying until mid-November.


  1. Darn good post on these exceptional moths! "Cunning beasts"! Well, good thing for us that John Howard is even more cunning, and was a veritable Buck Moth Slayer!


  2. Thanks, Jim! Another great adventure, even if there weren't any ninjas. :)