Fall blooming plants attract such an interesting variety of pollinators. Among the many species I was able to capture with my macro lens last week was this very pretty moth.
There are a few moth species that do forage in the daytime, but this one really is largely a nocturnal forager and disperser, quite distinctive with its well insulated body of fuzzy tan “hairs” and huge green eyes. It’s a corn earworm moth — the larvae of which are major agricultural pests on a variety of crops, especially corn, tomatoes, and cotton.
As a major pest of commercial crops, corn earworm has been subjected to pesticide exposure for years, and over generations, the larvae have developed resistance to some pesticides, which makes controlling them even more difficult. Each female can lay 500-3000 eggs in her lifetime, and the combined damage of corn earworm larvae runs in the 100s of millions of dollars in the U.S each year.
Fortunately for us (in the northern midwest), corn earworm is not a permanent resident but must re-invade with short, northerly directed migratory flights each summer. They cannot survive sub-freezing temperatures and will die off each winter.