Nature & You: In search of the black witch moth
In search of the black witch moth
I enjoy a trip to the Oklahoma State Fair.
Judging by the size of the crowds, I am not the only one. It is noticeably apparent that some of those visitors come for the food. Yet, others delight in the roller coaster rides and other like things of sheer terror. As for me, however, I use the state fair visit as a sleuthing aid in order to help me garner tidbits of information about our state's insect populations.
What I go in search of is the various educational exhibits of the 4-H organization.
Included are the entomology display cases. The glass-topped cases are filled with representatives of grasshoppers, beetles, butterflies and moths.
Each year, I scour the contents of these insect display boxes in my search for one species in particular: The black witch moth.
It very rarely shows up in these insect collections. The reasons for this are varied and complex. The black witch moth is a Mexican species that sometimes, but not always, comes flying up to Oklahoma for a brief visit. It is active at night; obviously most of the 4-H members are tucked into their beds with their eyes closed when all of this is going on. During the daylight hours, this secretive creature hides out in dark, out-of-the way places (where it may not easily be seen by 4-H members on the scout for insect specimens).
It is, therefore, no big surprise that the black witch moth very rarely scores a prominent spot of honor in the 4-H entomology display cases. This year, I actually saw only one black witch moth in the 4-H display cases.
As best as I can figure, the black witch moth is sort of akin to the Bigfoot/Sasquatch of Oklahoma's insect world. What I mean is this: It is out there but is sort of lurking in the shadows.
Won't you help me in my quest to keep an eye peeled for this elusive mini-beast?
— Neil Garrison, NewsOK Contributor
Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center.