Alabaster Caverns moth observations

Last weekend my family and I went camping at Alabaster Caverns State Park in northwest Oklahoma (Woodward County). The nearby city of Woodward has a few moth observers. There are other state parks in the area (Boiling Springs, Little Sahara, Gloss Mountains, and Salt Plains), which means there are nature-oriented people making observations in these areas - more so than in a lot of the sparsely populated western half of the state. That being said, there aren't a whole lot of insect observations at this particular state park. The park has varying terrain including a deep canyon with a spring-fed creek north of the campground. This canyon includes one of the entrances to the 3/4 mile long gypsum cave. The state park lies within the EPA Level III ecoregion of "Central Great Plains" and Level IV ecoregion of "Gypsum Hills." (source)

I set up my moth lights and sheets on two nights, Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30. There was decent activity at the lights on Saturday night but Sunday night was almost a complete bust. I observed 65 or more species of moths on Saturday and 2 additional species on Sunday. The area where I set up the lights was south of the campground, close to a grove of trees in a lower lying area, which was sheltered from wind somewhat. (Google map link)

The most common moths were:

Army Cutworm Moth (Euxoa auxilliaris)
Pale Graphic (Drasteria pallescens)
Deduced Graphic (Bulia deducta)

Significant finds were:

Ponometia altera [OK STATE RECORD & lifer]

Arizona Bird-dropping Moth (Ponometia elegantula) [OK STATE RECORD & lifer]

Digrammia triviata [lifer]

Narrow-winged Midget (Tarache augustipennis) [lifer]

Melitara subumbrella - my first time to see in Oklahoma

Harvey's Prominent (Litodonta hydromeli) - my first time to ever see one all gray, completely lacking any green. I didn't recognize this as a Harvey's and thought I was seeing something new to me.

Radcliffe's Dagger (Acronicta radcliffei) - I've only seen this species once before and saw several on Saturday evening.

I imagine at least a handful of the 67+ species are county records but I haven't taken the time yet to go through each one and compare with the county list.

Interesting & unidentified:

Pococera - I'm considering this could be a species I haven't seen before, P. subcanalis. If not, it's probably P. asperatella or P. expandens.

Eucosmiini - I'm thinking this is probably from the genera Eucosma or Pelochrista but I haven't found a good match in either of those yet.

Eucosmiini - this is a really attractive little Tortricid moth that I think is from the genus Eucosma, but I haven't determined which species yet.

I'm pretty sure I have this one in the right family (Tortricidae), but I could be wrong. I'd be happy for any help identifying this one.

Non-moth observations

I saw a lot of Lemon Paintbrush (Castilleja citrina) in bloom - my first time seeing that species. Bird observations of note were Bewick's Wrens singing, lots of Lark Sparrows, a pair of Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, a Louisiana Waterthrush (which eBird flags as rare for this location), a huge flock of Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and my lifer Common Poorwills singing after dark. In the cave we saw several bats and I was able to get photographs of two species: Tricolored and Cave Myotis.

You can find all of my observations from this state park here.

הועלה ב-מאי 5, 2023 07:05 אחה"צ על ידי zdufran zdufran


Tagging some moth observers who might be interested:
@rdparker @leahn19 @gcwarbler @jcochran706 @cehmoth @sambiology @calinsdad @lauramurdoch @tim-springer

פורסם על-ידי zdufran לפני בערך 1 שנים

Beautiful, Zach! These are awesome!!! :)
I've not been to this park before -- you've put it on my 'go-to' map! :)

פורסם על-ידי sambiology לפני בערך 1 שנים

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