Aren’t you Mothly?

caddisfly on light green lichen

A caddisfly hides in the flaps and folds of lichen.

We have a new addition (to the website, I mean). Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a moth? No, though it looks remarkably like the latter. Instead it is a caddisfly, an insect that spends it larval days underwater. The adult pictured here was one of many hiding (or trying to) in the lichen of the trees in picnic area at the edge of a pond. Such reserved, self-effacing behavior is also reminiscent of many moths. How do you tell them apart? Well, noting whether you are near a body of water is a decent start, but only a start. Their wings usually provide a strong indicator, as they are more transparent, if also hairy, as opposed to the   self-defining scaled wings of moths. I do not have a lot of experience with these creatures, but from what I have had, they’re not terribly exciting adults. I hear the “kids” are more interesting, not an uncommon phenomenon among insects.

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4 thoughts on “Aren’t you Mothly?

  1. Could the antennae help distinguish one from the other? That’s how I tell months from butterflies. Moths have antennae that either resemble feathers or a saw. Read about this earlier this year when I looked up how to tell butterflies from moths.

    1. I’m not aware of there being a general characteristic to distinguish moths and caddisflies. Just taking the caddisfly in this photo, I have shot different moths that have very similar-looking antennae. If there is a differentiating feature I think it would probably be more technical/subtle/precise.

  2. I always marvel at your beautiful shots. I mean, how do you even see those things in the lichen? You’ve got to have very sharp eyesight which leaves me out. Seriously, I’m thinking about getting a camera body/macro lens this year, but mainly for bees. At least I know where to look. :)

    1. Thanks, Pat, really appreciate it. As far as finding them and seeing them, these guys were in large numbers like I said, and they got jumpy when I got close to the trees so it wasn’t too hard. I wasn’t really searching them out though; in general, I just get real close and take a gander; I’m pretty thorough along my route (usually the edges of roads or fields or forest tracts) so eventually I see something. That’s how I stack the odds in my favor. :o)

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