Blake Newton, UK Extension Entomology
Here's my last moth for National Moth Week:
Yep, it's really a moth. This one is trying to look like a paper wasp, but the "fluffy," scaly body and thick, feathery antennae reveal its true nature. A real paper wasp has shiny integument and thin antennae.
I don't have much to say about the identification of this one. That's because I haven't been able to figure out what it is! You would think that a moth this distinctive would be easy to identify, but there is actually a whole "tribe" (a tribe sits somewhere between Family and Genus) of wasps that look similar to this, all of which belong to the Family Sesidae, a group filled with wasp-like moths.
On Bugguide, I was able to find at least three moths in our area that could be a match: Paranthrene asilipennis, Paranthrene dollii, and Vitacea polistiformis. To me, all of these look very similar, and I think it takes a real expert in this group to tell the difference. I'll probably never learn what it is, unless one of those experts takes a look at this blog.
So my week with moths comes to an end. I am still not a moth expert. If anything, I have learned that the world of moth diversity is even more complex than I thought. But you can't learn about every moth at once. This week, I learned a little bit about five of them. Only about 125,000 to go!