“Silver Butt Beetle” to the Uncommon Graceful Grass-Veneer Moth to FIREFLIES! at Deer Park Prairie

Published by Houston Chapter on

Katy in front of the light screen that she had set up to attract the insects.

Katy Emde, HNPAT and GCMN (Gulf Coast Master Naturalist) member, gave a talk on moths at the July 24, HNPAT meeting and then led a moth viewing trip to Deer Park Prairie on July 26, an event registered on NationalMothWeek.org.

The field trip was a leisurely way to spend a summer evening, especially after a marathon volunteer workday for some (blog and photos of workday upcoming shortly). Starting at 8:00 p.m., while still light, Katy took the group to view the prairie, especially the Blazing Stars (Liatris sp.) that will soon be mowed.

Back patio at Deer Park Prairie house.

Back patio at Deer Park Prairie house.

When the group returned, it was almost dark and chairs were brought to the side lawn of the Deer Park Prairie headquarter house.  Visitors sat and talked or stood at the two white sheets with black lights (UV lights) that Katy had set up. Katy talked about the many insects that were attracted to the lights. I loved the name we gave to a cute tiny black beetle – silver butt beetle.

"Silver butt beetle"

“Silver butt beetle” by Lan Shen

Afterwards, Katy posted two of the many nocturnal insects that we saw on bugguide.net and emailed: “ …I just submitted two of the moths that we saw to Bugguide with the comment ‘Came to lights during an HNPAT National Moth Week event’.  I wanted you all to get credit for the evening.  One of the moths is a mystery and might be a special one…

Graceful Grass-Veneer Moth by Katy Emde

Graceful Grass-Veneer Moth by Katy Emde

Later she updated her email, writing that the mystery moth “turned out to be Parapediasia decorella, a Graceful Grass-Veneer Moth (Katy’s post).  That is what I thought it might be and after checking three websites that I know, this appears to be the third posted sighting in Texas.  Of course, there may be other postings, other places, or in collections. This is a first for Harris County and the first one in Texas on Bugguide. Pretty cool.  So even on a slow night we were able to add something to the records.”

Pin-striped Slug Moth by Katy Emde

Pin-striped Slug Moth by Katy Emde

The other moth was a Pin-striped Slug Moth (Monoleuca semifascia). Link for Katy’s post. Check out the caterpillar at this link. Note: the photos in Katy’s posts were taken under magnification.

Toward the end of the evening, looking out at the prairie, we saw FIREFLIES! – first I have seen in years!

Thank you Katy, for a delightful talk and evening.  Let’s celebrate National Moth Week every year on the Deer Park Prairie.

Note: Three members of the Fort Bend Master Gardener’s Entomology Group attended Katy’s moth talk at the July HNPAT.  Hope you all will come back to our future meetings!