Meeting the Pitcher Plant Mining Moth (Exyra semicrocea)
A few years ago I heard about pitcher plant mining moths on a podcast, probably the In Defense of Plants podcast but I can’t figure out which episode, and I’ve wanted to see one ever since. We’ve been out to the pitcher plants at Watson Preserve and the Pitcher Plant Bog in the Big Thicket several times but I’ve forgotten to look at them. Chris recently learned about them too and was interested in trying to find them while we were in Florida but there weren’t really many new pitchers growing yet out in the bogs so we didn’t see any moths. Last week, however, he was out in the field in the east Texas and came across a small bog and managed to find a moth in a pitcher plant. He texted the photo to me and of course I was very jealous about this sighting! Luckily we were heading out to Angelina National Forest to do some hiking and plant exploring over this last weekend after we attended the SFA Plant Sale in Nacogdoches, and we had the opportunity to see them–if we found a bog. We found a bog and we found the moths!
Forest had been having a rough morning, looking for plants in rare habitats was very boring to a 7.5 year old and there was a meltdown at our first stop Sunday morning. He perked up a bit when we got to the bog and Chris showed him how to find the moths, as you can see in the first video above. You have to be careful not to tear the tops of the pitcher plants but you can peer into the plants to see the moths fairly easily. I used my phone to take these photos and videos. Next on my list is to see the caterpillar of the moth! You can read more about the moth here, which has a much better write-up than I could possibly do here on my blog.
You can see a lovely caterpillar and some other photos from the Florida panhandle via Lilly Anderson-Messec below.
Patrice La Vigne
I bet if you compare Forest to other kids, he is extremely patient!!!
That moth is so cute, but then again, I find most moths weirdly cute. It’s those hairy antennae, I think. Dumb question, but I assume that in the video that movement is water?
I’ll second the comment above: I’ll bet your Forest is more mature and patient than most 7 year-olds.
Perfect timing. I’ve been thinking about making a trip to east Texas this weekend, so maybe I’ll peek into a pitcher plant myself!