Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 08/26/2014

Photo taken on August 10, 2014

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Anne Elliott
Brown-Lowery Provincial Park
Police Car Moth
Gnophaela vermiculata
edge of forest
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Arctiidae
Genus: Gnophaela
SW of Calgary

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Police Car Moth

Police Car Moth
A couple of weeks ago, on 10 August 2014, I slept right through an hour of very loud music and then woke up nearly five hours later (around 11:30 a.m.)! As a result, I missed a trip with friends to a great place SW of the city, Brown-Lowery Provincial Park - one that I don't like going to on my own. Knowing that there would be other people in the area, I decided to still go, but not go very far into the forest on my own. Hopefully, the others would scare any Bears and Cougars out of the forest and not in my direction! To say that I could kick myself is to put it mildly!

So much for hoping that there would be no bears. When I arrived at the not particularly well-known forest, I signed the "guest book" as I often do. Before I turned the page to sign on a nice fresh page, I happened to read one of the last comments that someone had written - a Black Bear had been seen that day, on the very trail I wanted to go on! I put the can of Bear Spray into my fanny-pack (can't use a backpack because of the rotator cuff inflammation in both my shoulders), but after a few steps, knew my fanny pack felt just too heavy. Put the can back in the car and instead, attached my bear bell to my camera strap and clutched a small air-horn in one hand. I only spent about an hour in the forest, but did not enjoy a single step of it, lol! I was determined to at least go a very tiny way in, having driven all the way there.

Very thankfully, there was no sign of the bear - but also no sign of any mushrooms other than one tiny cluster of Pholiotas growing at the base of a tree stump. Absolutely nothing, despite recent rain. Maybe it's still too early, especially after such a late spring? August is supposedly the peak of the fungi season here. Found the beautiful Police Car Moth in my photo above, when I walked around the edge of the parking lot after my short walk. Saw very little on the drive home - a couple of Hawks (one on a hay bale), a few Ravens and a few Crows, one Cedar Waxwing, and several very distant ducks. No sign of any Red-winged or Yellow-headed Blackbirds and no Wilson's Snipe.

"The Police Car Moth is a fairly large moth with a wingspan of up to 50 mm. The wings are jet black with large white patches between the black scaled veins. As well, there are two orange patches of hairs on either side of the thorax, right behind the head. It is this colour combination, that of an old style police car, that gives it its name. Larvae are hairy and black with yellow and blue markings. The Police Car Moth is found throughout the province in or near forested areas. Adults fly throughout July and early August." From Royal Alberta Museum.