A couple of days ago I found this small (2cm across) moth near the garden pond and it caused me no end of trouble getting an accurate identification. At first I was pretty sure it was one of the checkered skippers – look them up and you will soon see why this was my default assumption – except the amount of white on the wings was rather pronounced and the antennae did not have the characteristic hooked end that skippers possess. It also has an orange head and thorax which really threw me … so I passed along the photos to my friendly local moth guru, Chris. Even he admitted to “having to go beyond my mental database” for this one, but he came up trumps.
This is a Small Magpie Moth (Anania hortulata) which is found in the north-eastern part of the continent but is truly a Eurasian species that was introduced to North America at some point and is managing to make a living amongst us. See http://bugguide.net/node/view/10911 where they say “North American distribution seems patchy and not well known (as of May 2013)”. The Moth Photographers Group have a range map (http://goo.gl/Ys8ZIY) that is interesting as it shows a separate cluster around the Vancouver area, so presumably the species has been inadvertently introduced from both east and west. Fortunately it seems to live on mint, hardly a plant that needs cause worry as being endangered!