Mystery Moth: a Skipper (Plus Wildscaping Inspiration)
The nice folks at "What's That Bug?" promptly replied: "This is a skipper. Not a moth nor a butterfly, but between. Not a problem in the garden." However a friend commenting on my LJ, which carries this blog and Mobilis, my tech blog, said: "Saturniid for sure; probably citheronia. ... Sadly, this silk moth and its ravenous kids will eat anything softish and leafy, even flowers."
Um, eek. There's clearly some difference of opinion here, and for my garden's sake, let's do some research. My friend's post included some links to images, which I was relieved to see were not a good match for my little visitor. I went image googling for 'skipper' and found some other info. Skippers are Hesperiid (Hesperidae) in order Lepidoptera, and I can't find any warnings about any particular damage due to them.
One fortuitous find was a lovely site about Southern California landscaping with and for wildlife/wild plants that featured a skipper photo on its goldenrod page. These folks seem very knowledgeable about insect species, and have an excellent handout on species for butterfly gardening. Most folks talking about butterfly gardens don't know that you have to plant for both the adult and the caterpillar, as often the species of plants required (or preferred) for the young are different than those sipped by the nectar-eating adult. These folks really have their info together!
I'm also finding lots of things about their site that resonate with what I'd like to do with My Bay Area Garden. I really think that a locally-focused site, with lots of links to things of personal interest to the site poster(s), has a lot of potential to be a great resource. Not all things to everyone, but definitely something of strong interest to a few. Thanks for the inspiration!
As I geek around more with the template for this site, and figure out how to add a 'blogroll' sidebar on the right-hand side, I'll be sure to link in the folks at Wildscaping.