Identifying Moths and Butterflies

Open field with trees

Photo: Anna Ozab

Yesterday, the after-school program Anna attends each Wednesday took a field trip to Mount Pisgah Arboretum, southeast of Eugene. I went along as one of the parent volunteers. It was a beautiful day for a hike and Anna brought along her camera. She took pictures of frogs, birds, squirrels, and flowers, and at one point she snapped this shot.


Photo: Anna Ozab

I have no idea when she took it. I never saw the little guy until yesterday evening when Julia found him while editing Anna’s photos. My daughter has inherited her mom’s eye for detail.

It’s good enough that we’re considering entering it in the fair this summer—depending on how the print comes out—but before we do I’d like to know what kind of moth it is. I looked online hoping I would find one that looked similar enough that my untrained eye could identify it. Instead I found something better.

Butterflies and Moths of North America has an identification page where you can submit a photograph along with the time and place of the sighting and a lepidopterist will identify your mystery moth or butterfly. All you have to do is sign up for a free account and fill out a simple form with an attached photo. (I submitted Anna’s photo this morning and once I hear back I will post the response in the comments.)


Photo: Julia Ozab

Anna loves butterflies. Last year in first grade she learned about the lifecycle of the butterfly and together with her class raised caterpillars and released them after they became butterflies. She also learned words like chrysalis and metamorphosis. Given her love of butterflies and moths, I can see her taking a lot more pictures and learning a lot more from the helpful folks at Butterflies and Moths of North America.

Most Thursdays on Fatherhood Etc. we’ll learn something new in a series called “Thursday’s Child.” See you next week.


A Poem for Ascension Day

Monarch Butterfly

Photo: Kenneth Dwain Harrelson (CC BY-SA 3.0)

“Easter wings.” from The Temple by George Herbert (1593 – 1633).

Lord, who created man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poor:
With thee
Oh let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did begin:
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sin,
That I became
Most thin.
With thee
Let me combine
And feel this day thy victory:
For, if I imp my wing on thine
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

The first graders at Anna’s school are releasing their butterflies later this morning, and while the choice of today is a coincidence, they couldn’t have chosen better.