Montana Outdoors

February 12, 2012

Late night visitor

Filed under: Butterflies — Tags: , — montucky @ 1:21 pm

Last night as I sat at the computer I noticed a slight motion just to my left. A tiny moth (measuring about a quarter of an inch from wingtip to wingtip) had landed on the desk beside me. It had a rather pleasing silverish look to its wings, which also seemed to have an unusual configuration. It stayed around long enough for a photo. I had never noticed anything with that kind of wing before. Today, it took me over an hour to identify it: (my skills at identifying insects are sadly under par). After looking at 235 pages of insect photos, on the very last page, the very last photo, was a picture of Alucita montana, a Six-plume moth.

Alucita montana, Six-plume moth


  1. thank so much for sharing this! never have seen wings like this.


    Comment by C.C. — February 12, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

    • I had not either, until I saw the lens focus on it. Until then I thought it was just a pretty little moth.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

  2. So unusual and very beautiful!


    Comment by Colleen — February 12, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

  3. I’ve never seen anything like it. What a lovely angelic visitor from nature.


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — February 12, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

    • I know I’ve seen these many times, but never so closely. It was a delightful visit!


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 11:09 pm

  4. Incredible…would find it hard to believe the wing is split into six separate pieces if I hadn’t seen it for myself…nice photo. And thank you. 🙂


    Comment by seekraz — February 12, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

    • It was a surprise to me too. I first thought it might have been damaged, but looking at it closely I could see it was OK.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

  5. I discovered (as I’m sure you did) that it’s rather widespread and not exactly “rare”, but given its size and coloration, I think it would be extremely difficult to see – even in plain sight. I’ve never seen anything like it, for sure. Your photo is much better than the ones I found, too, but that’s no surprise at all! I’m so glad it was willing to hang around to have its portrait made!


    Comment by shoreacres — February 12, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

    • I think the most surprising thing was that it is not rare, and I’ve probably seen hundreds of them without closely examining any of them. A little embarrassing.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 11:12 pm

  6. That is one amazing looking moth! Look out Mothra!


    Comment by Roberta — February 12, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

  7. Wow, amazing! And so tiny. Guess we should look closer at those little annoying things flitting around the computer screen.


    Comment by laveta segura — February 12, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

    • You’re right. I should have learned that by now! I like this little guy.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 11:13 pm

  8. What absolutely exquisite detail. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a moth’s wings that up close!


    Comment by Marcie — February 12, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

    • A good lens is a blessing, isn’t it. On my screen, the moth is six inches across, so that would be about 24 times its life size.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

  9. He’s very unusual looking!


    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — February 12, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

    • Yes, yet at a glance, without magnification, just a tiny, silver-colored moth.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

  10. I wonder how it can fly with wings that look like they are in pieces. It sure is a fantastic creature.


    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — February 12, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

    • It’s fascinating to wonder how it can fly, which it seem to do very well. I also wonder what kind of strategy produced the design.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 11:24 pm

  11. If that isn’t the most unusual moth! I know what you mean by looking up the identity. Ducks are my weak suit — I never get the type right unless it is a mallard male! Interesting desk color you have — a bit of turquoise?


    Comment by Jack Matthews — February 12, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

    • I do a little better with ducks than I do with insects. I have bookmarked several dozen sites that deal with butterflies.

      The desk is a most cherished possession. It is an old 3′ X 5′ desk that was restored and refinished by my wife’s mother. It’s a beautiful antique style of finish and it is a very beautiful desk.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

  12. I’m happy that you were able to get the photo… I’ve never seen anything like it… Beautiful!!


    Comment by kcjewel — February 12, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

    • I’m happy about it too, Jewel. I was pretty excited when I saw what the lens saw.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 11:30 pm

  13. fascinating!


    Comment by Roberta — February 12, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

    • Yes, another fascinating thing of nature. There is no end to all of them!


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 11:31 pm

  14. i think that i would have ran screaming instead of reaching for a camera. do you see many “moths” around in the dead of winter?


    Comment by Sandy — February 12, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

    • I have always found it interesting that I do see insects around in the middle of winter. One would not think they would be out then. Moths though are unusual this time of year.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2012 @ 11:33 pm

  15. It’s beautiful – like some kind of fairy moth! I wonder what’s the advantage of such heavily serrated wings?


    Comment by Jo Woolf — February 13, 2012 @ 1:36 am

    • I wonder too. It is a strange adaptation, but to what?


      Comment by montucky — February 13, 2012 @ 1:50 am

  16. How pretty , the wings are very unusual. Thanks for sharing the photo and the id. Have a great week!


    Comment by Eileen — February 13, 2012 @ 3:20 am

    • Yes, I thought them quite unusual too. Have a great week too!


      Comment by montucky — February 14, 2012 @ 12:53 am

  17. Thanks (to you and the moth) for sharing. Surprised that those wings allow it to fly at all.


    Comment by Mike — February 13, 2012 @ 4:53 am

    • That wing configuration, sure changes my ideas about how some insects fly! The flight patterns of the little thing didn’t seem at all unusual.


      Comment by montucky — February 14, 2012 @ 12:54 am

  18. Wow, that is very cool.


    Comment by anniespickns — February 13, 2012 @ 7:35 am

    • I love discovering little creatures like this and being surprised when I take a close look!


      Comment by montucky — February 14, 2012 @ 12:55 am

  19. Wow I have never seen anything like this before…it looks very alien! Very cool!!!


    Comment by dhphotosite — February 13, 2012 @ 9:06 am

  20. WOW WOW WOW, simply gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!


    Comment by bayphotosbydonna — February 13, 2012 @ 9:54 am

  21. I thought it was a fishing fly when I saw it. Bet it came indoors on a piece of wood. Great job with the photography, and quick identification.


    Comment by sandy — February 13, 2012 @ 10:20 am

    • That about the way most of my flies look after a few trout have chewed on them. I have found other insects coming in with the firewood, and it could be where i came from.


      Comment by montucky — February 14, 2012 @ 1:00 am

  22. He is gorgeous!! Of course it would be the last photo — ain’t that the way it goes? hahaha!!


    Comment by Barbara — February 13, 2012 @ 11:47 am

    • Yes, the very last one! A rough estimate is 7000 to 10000 photos!


      Comment by montucky — February 14, 2012 @ 1:02 am

  23. Very cool! Never seen anything like it!


    Comment by TheDailyClick — February 13, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

    • It was new to me too! Because I’m outdoors so much I thought I had seen them all, too.


      Comment by montucky — February 14, 2012 @ 1:03 am

  24. I would have assumed he was very tattered if you hadn’t actually found a picture of one like him!
    Good capture. (I second the opinion that it came in with a piece of wood.)


    Comment by Kim — February 13, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

    • I thought that for just an instant when I saw the photo too, but then the strands looked very much like the little fibers on a feather.


      Comment by montucky — February 14, 2012 @ 1:04 am

  25. glad you did not give up until you reached success! congrats on IDing the moth, and sharing it with us. interesting!


    Comment by silken — February 13, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

    • I’m sure there are lots of folks who know how to quickly identify insects, but I have never learned how to do it.


      Comment by montucky — February 14, 2012 @ 1:06 am

  26. And he has montana in his name. Are they only in that area? He is a handsome and unusual moth.


    Comment by Candace — February 13, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

    • I saw on a web site that their range is “southwestern Quebec and Vermont, west to British Columbia, south to Arizona, California, and Texas”. They are probably very common, but usually un-noticed because of their small size.


      Comment by montucky — February 14, 2012 @ 1:10 am

  27. Whoa, what a fascinating moth! I’ll have to start paying attention to them more!


    Comment by Watching Seasons — February 14, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

  28. Whoa, I’m going to have to start paying attention to the little things around me! Fascinating moth!


    Comment by Watching Seasons — February 14, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

    • Exactly! This little guy did everything he could to get my attention!


      Comment by montucky — February 14, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  29. Wow! That is about the coolest moth I’ve ever seen… and I haven’t seen this type before. Looks like feathers. Neat that you noticed and captured a great shot!


    Comment by Anna — February 16, 2012 @ 7:52 am

    • It was new to me too, and it’s definitely a cool little creature.


      Comment by montucky — February 16, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

  30. so amazing to see it’s wings like this, a new and wonderful thing for me.


    Comment by Tammie — February 17, 2012 @ 11:21 pm

  31. Amazing. You are doing a very thorough job, when finding out what it was!!! My hat off. I am very glad that You presented it to us.


    Comment by Sartenada — February 18, 2012 @ 2:41 am

    • I just had to find out more about that little creature. I was amazed by it!


      Comment by montucky — February 18, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

  32. Amazing what you can see if you look closely…the feathery wings are so pretty close up!


    Comment by kateri — February 19, 2012 @ 8:18 am

    • Yes, amazing. Shoot first, see what you captured later!


      Comment by montucky — February 19, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

  33. Very cool!


    Comment by Cedar — February 24, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  34. Gorgeous. It almost looks like a piece of jewelry, and yet, an intricate moth. How lovely.


    Comment by Bo Mackison — March 2, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

    • I liked discovering it, but after I found that it was a very common moth I felt a little sad and ashamed that I had never looked closely at one before.


      Comment by montucky — March 2, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

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