Butterfly and Moth Identification

Black Witch moth from HouseofIngrams.com

One morning I was cruising through our strange little “breakfast nook” area and saw something out of the corner of my eye…I thought there was a good-sized bat hanging outside our window!  On closer inspection, it proved to be a really big moth.  Really big, like seven inches across, and it was sideways so it really did look like a bat at first glance.  Well of course first thing I do is start snapping pictures of it, thinking I could identify it.

Moth silhouette from HouseofIngrams.com
Seriously, out of the corner of your eye, this thing looks like a bat. Both my boys thought the same thing.

There are 6,935 species of moths and butterflies documented in North America.  Uh huh.  There are 5726 verified species of moths in the United States.  Hmmm.   Well…

As it happens, moth and butterfly identification can be quite difficult sometimes, so after a fruitless search of several websites, I happened across Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA).  Lucky me, they have a huge database.  Best part, you can submit your sighting and if you send them a picture they have a regional expert who will identify your mystery Lepidoptera and email you back!  So I registered for free, sent in my picture with the location and time, and within 30 minutes I had an ID for our moth.  It is an Ascalapha odorata… the common name is Black Witch!  Of course, if you read about it on the species page they make sure to tell you that it is “easily identified by its large size and pointed forewing”…ok so in future I will be able to identify one!

BAMONA screenshot from HouseofIngrams.com

The screenshot above is the bottom of the species page, and my photo is on the far left.

BAMONA sighting map
All the reported sightings of this species, mapped!

I am truly a major nerd, but this just tickles me to death.  Anyone with a decent picture of a moth, butterfly, caterpillar, egg, or pupa can submit it and get it identified, plus it helps BAMONA track species all over the continent.

BAMONA get involved

Citizen science is a method of data collection using crowdsourcing- regular people make observations and report to scientists who compile and analyze it.  This method is a great way to get a lot more data than trained scientists could ever get working alone.

This would be a great nature lesson for any student and is an excellent resource for insect study; well, moths and butterflies at least.

Other citizen science projects that are very easy and fun to participate in are the Great Backyard Bird Count, Project Feederwatch, and WeatherUnderground (you can connect your personal weather station to their network to monitor the weather).  There are a bunch of ongoing projects listed on this Wikipedia page.

I hope this is helpful and encourages you to send in your butterfly and moth pictures to BAMONA!

Identifying Butterflies and Moths using BAMONA website from HouseofIngrams.com

 

Riverfront Murals of Cape Girardeau

Mural in Cape Girardeau from HouseofIngrams.com
The art studio and the artists are listed in this mural.

Cape Girardeau is a town on the Mississipi River in southeast Missouri.  It has a colorful history and has preserved it in a unique way, by painting huge detailed murals depicting scenes from the area’s past on the floodwall built to keep the town from being regularly inundated by high river water.  If you have to have a giant concrete wall between you and the river, this is the best way to do it!

The murals are located in the old downtown district, which is full of nifty old buildings.  There are restaurants, antique shops, and bars to visit and when we were there, lots of free parking.  There is a pathway along the murals on the town side of the wall with descriptive signs in front of each panel.  There is also a pathway on the river side you can walk along.

Cape Mural from HouseofIngrams.com
This is my younger son in front of a riverside mural.

I am in awe of the artistic skill needed for this, and the sheer scale of this project.  The 24 panel Mississippi River Tales murals and the Missouri Wall of Fame are the ones we saw on this visit.  There are other murals in the area by other artists as well.  My photos don’t really do it justice, but I will put them here anyway.

Missouri Mural from HouseofIngrams.com
Famous people from Missouri.
Missouri Mural from HouseofIngrams.com
More famous Missouri people.

Missouri Mural from HouseofIngrams.com

Each mural in the Mississippi River Tales has a little sign in front explaining the story depicted.  I only took a picture of one, because it was such a crazy story…

Railroad Mural plaque from HouseofIngrams.comRailroad Mural from HouseofIngrams.com

Missouri ingenuity.  And the railroad track runs right in front of the mural today.

Trail of Tears mural from HouseofIngrams.com
This depicts the Trail of Tears.

Nine of thirteen groups of Cherokees crossed the Mississippi River at Cape during the harsh winter of 1838-39.  Thousands died during this forced relocation and dozens are buried in the area.  There is a state park at the crossing location now.

Mural from HouseofIngrams.com

Louisiana Purchase mural from HouseofIngrams.com
This depicts Napoleon in his bath…informing his lackeys that he had sold Louisiana to that upstart United States.

Mural from HouseofIngrams.com

Mural from HouseofIngrams.com

Mural from HouseofIngrams.com

Mural from HouseofIngrams.com

Keep in mind, this is a smooth concrete wall…all the “stonework” is painted on.  The one above fascinates me.  It’s a painting of a painter painting the painting…

These are just beautiful in person, so if you get a chance to visit, do so!  There is an online guide with lots more information here.  

Here’s some of the downtown area…

Port Cape Girardeau building from HouseofIngrams.comBuildings Cape Girardeau from HouseofIngrams.comDowntown Cape

River view from HouseofIngrams.com
And there is the river!
The bridge crossing the Mississippi viewed from Cape Girardeau.

I hope you enjoyed the photo tour!