Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Soft greeneyes and a visitor of a different color

with 12 comments

Reddish-Orange Moth on Greeneyes Flower Head 1869

You’re looking at a flower head of Berlandiera pumila, known as soft greeneyes, and a glance at its central disk explains the second part of that common name. When I prepared this post I originally wrote “I wish I had a name to give you for the colorful moth,” but since then the good folks at BugGuide have identified this as Schinia volupia, called a painted schinia moth. Apparently insects in the genus Schinia are known as flower moths, and they’re in the family Noctuidae, whose members people refer to as owlet moths. The tiny insect in the upper right is some kind of tumbling flower beetle.

Like the last several photographs, this one comes from an April 27th field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 11, 2014 at 6:01 AM

12 Responses

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  1. So many questions! Is the Schinia a flower moth because it’s often seen on flowers, or because it looks like a flower? (I suspect the second.) And as for that tumbling flower beetle, is the flower or the beetle that tumbles? (Of course the beetle, but the link confirmed that.) What amused me most was my 180 degree error about the beetle’s shape. I saw that long, tapered portion as a snout, not a tail. Again, the link straightened me out.

    The flower’s gorgeous. The colors remind me of a Mediterranean tile. I don’t remember seeing them, but it appears from the distribution map they’re more common inland.

    shoreacres

    June 11, 2014 at 6:50 AM

    • Yes, you’re the queen of questions this merry morning. In looking for an answer to your first question, I found this about the genus Schinia at BugGuide: “Many species are brightly-colored, providing good camouflage against the flowers on which they feed and lay eggs. Forewing color ranges from white to near black, some with large amounts of pink or yellow, and a good number of darker brown species that have large pale patches that break up the moth’s outline and resemble dappled areas of sunlight/shade.” The BugGuide entry also notes that “species diversity [is] much greater in the west, especially the southwest.”

      Your second question, which is syntactical and semantic, highlights the potential ambiguity of the first of two modifiers. I’ve sometimes reworded a phrase of my writing to make things unambiguous or less ambiguous.

      Tumbling flower beetles have such a distinctive shape that they’re one type of insect I’ve learned to identify, at least as a kind, if not a genus or species.

      I think the first time I ever saw a species of Berlandiera was over a dozen years ago on US 290 in the vicinity of Johnson City. Two years ago I found some on an undeveloped property on Interstate 35 in Austin. According to the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the genus is “named for French-Swiss physician Jean Louis Berlandier (1805-1851) who collected plants in Texas and northern Mexico.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2014 at 7:13 AM

  2. Very nice pair.

    bentehaarstad

    June 11, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    • And with the bonus of the tumbling flower beetle (or the flower, depending on how you conceived your pair).

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2014 at 11:22 AM

  3. The do make a nice looking couple, strictly on a platonic level.
    A few years aback I photographed a beetle on a swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). I thought that I had ID’d it as a Longhorn Flower Beetle. I was incorrect…it is a Flower Longhorn Beetle. Both classifications are in use …tricky devils, those entomologists. http://bugguide.net/node/view/292251

    Steve Gingold

    June 11, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    • That’s a great picture you linked to, for both the beetle and the flower. In Texas any mention of a longhorn is likely to conjure up an image of a steer, but I’ll go with the entomologists and favor the beetle.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2014 at 4:32 PM

  4. Quelle superbe composition Steve, félicitations!

    chatou11

    June 13, 2014 at 5:35 AM

  5. Now, surely that moth is posing for you, nestled up against that greeneye’s green eye and (almost) centered on a petal. Wonderful!

    Susan Scheid

    June 13, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    • The way I look at it, Susan, all of nature obligingly poses for me (except of course the many things that get away).

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 13, 2014 at 5:32 PM


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