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What is Being Collected?
My (perceived) part of this job is to provide a "bridge" between the field and cyberspace.... Someone has to be "out there" in the real world every night, actually making the observations and gathering voucher specimens, or there would be nothing to report!! The specimens taken are pinned and labeled, for future submission to taxonomists. This (eventually!) leads to at least tentative identifications, in the majority of cases. Eggs are often obtained, larvae may be reared, and photos are made to illustrate previously unknown eggs, larvae, or pupae. The discovery and documentation of new life histories has been my special interest ever since the late 1940's. There is still a great need for more investigators in this endlessly fascinating (and very uncrowded!) sector of entomology. Perhaps 80% (or more?) of the early stages, of our North American moths, remain unknown to science in 2008....
To attract the moths, I have been running ultraviolet or "black lights" (15 and 40 watts), more-or-less year around at this location, for nearly every consecutive year since our residence began here in early 1979. A card file was started at the outset, to record every species of "macro" moth encountered here, and for documenting all of their flight-periods. A percentage of these species have also been reared, so foodplant names are included if known. Many of these have turned out to be new foodplant records, which now provide access to previously unknown life histories. Many of these (unpublished) foodplant discoveries have been freely shared with visiting lepidopterists over the years, and some of them have subsequently "appeared" in various publications (usually with no indication as to original source) hence the "year of first rearing" that accompanies certain entries! Numerous larvae (during about the first decade of this study) were preserved in alcohol for future study. The 4-digit "R-numbers" ("R" for reared), as attached to many of my slides or B.& W. photos, indicate that the depicted larvae were reared from eggs, or were captured in the habitat (by searching or bush-beating, etc.). The resulting reared adult moths (housed in the pinned collection) bear distinctive BLUE "rearing-labels", carrying the same "R-number" that links them to their preserved larvae or photographs, etc.. Empty pupal shells may be found attached on the pins beneath certain adult specimens (inside clear gelatin capsules), further confirming that they were, indeed, reared! This collection will eventually go to .....
Plant identifications mostly follow recent floral check-lists published for this locality (see Parfitt & Christy, 1992; Bowers & Laughlin, 1995). The authors of these lists have synonymized a number of the well-known Arizona plant names, that were applied in earlier publications (such as Kearney & Peebles, 1960). These more recent taxonomic interpretations of the local flora are followed in this presentation, when known to me .... (for example, Quercus arizonica "becomes" Q. grisea; Rhus choriophylla "becomes" R. virens; Pinus cembroides "becomes" P. discolor, etc., etc.). Why has this happened? see the section headed "TAXONOMY"!.... My unique situation here as a resident collector, living right in the midst of a chosen habitat, has made possible this type of more in-depth study at a single location. It now seems worthwhile to present my findings, for comparison with various other regional surveys that are already "out there".... The intent is NOT to compete, but to share and compare!
Five Acres of Moths
A long-term study documenting the occurrence of more than 900 macro-moth species on 5 acres in lower ASH CANYON (oak/manzanita woodland and grassland ecotone, at 5170 ft. elevation, 13 mi. S. of Sierra Vista).
What to Expect at this Site
SOME POSSIBLE (perhaps valid?) REASONS for visiting this "Backyard" website
About the Backyard Concept
Motivations: Why Publish This Material?
Summarizing How These Projects Evolved
What is Being Collected?
About the Photographs
Bias in Photo Representation
Taxonomy & Classification (the names)
About Moth Families & Subfamilies
Some Thoughts About Moth Surveys
Abundance Ratings Defined (8 Categories)
About the Flight Periods
Interpretation of the Flight-Phenograms
Miscellaneous Comments on Black Lights
Peculiarities of Moth Activity
Prime Time = Full-Moon-Plus-Ten
How To Obtain Perfect (Moth) Specimens
To Kill Or Not To Kill??
Beating or Sweeping for Larvae
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS & DETERMINATIONS
GLOSSARY & ABBREVIATIONS + SYMBOLS USED
Miscellaneous Tidbits Dept.
SUPERFAMILIES AND SUBFAMILIES
A FEW GENERIC SYNONYMS
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