A Few New Mexico Moths


The following photographs represent my chance encounters. If you're looking for a systematic photographic survey, I recommend the Moths of New Mexico web site maintained by Joe Schelling.


The images are organized alphabetically by taxon. Unlike butterflies, moths fall into several superfamilies so I've included the superfamily names (ending in -oidia). When you encounter a slide show, hover your cursor over the images to control them. If you seen an error, please contact me via the Contact tab at the top of the page.

Bombycoidea - Sphingidae (Sphinx or Hawk Moths)


Rocky Mountain Clearwing (Hemaris thetis)

Rocky Mountain Clearwing, Hemaris thetis, Cibola National Forest
Sandia Mountains, New Mexico


White-Lined Sphinx Moth (Hyles lineata)

To see a YouTube video of these moths visiting my daffodils, click here.

Geometroidea - Geometridae (Geometer Moths)



Geometridae, inchworm, new mexico
Rio Grande Bosque, Albuquerque, July 2020

Many species of Geometer Moth caterpillars look like twigs, and hold themselves stiffly at a proper angle to complete the disguise. Which is what this one was doing when I found it on White Sweetclover—only the contrast between the brown caterpillar and green stem attracted my notice. The caterpillars are popularly known as inchworms, after their peculiar way of moving.

Lasiocampoidea - Lasiocampidae (Eggars, Snout Moths, Lappet Moths)


Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma)


Tent caterpillars are from a single genus, and my examples are probably L. californicum, the Western Tent Caterpillar. If you click on the thumbnail on the left, you'll see a Wikipedia photo of an adult (taken by Jerald E. Dewey, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org).

Noctuoidea - Erebidae


Herminiinae: Litter Moths

Herminiinae, Litter Moth, New Mexico
Rio Grande Bosque, Albuquerque, July 2020


Litocala Moth (Litocala sexsignata)

My thanks to Joe Schelling for identifying this moth for me. 

Tineoidea - Psychidae (Bagworm Moths)


Bagworm Moth Homes

On a morning walk I saw a tree of heaven leaf with a big hole munched in the middle. When I lifted the leaf, a pupa-like thing dangled beneath. It was a bagworm moth caterpillar's case. The caterpillars haul these travel trailers wherever they go, and retreat inside at the first sign of danger. They also pupate in the case, and the adult females lay their eggs in their cases so the eggs can overwinter. Later that same month I found hundreds of bagworm cases dangling from willows on a sandbar in the Rio Grande, each apparently full of eggs (I didn't disturb them).