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History of Collecting
Collector and Identifier Abbreviation Key
Database Update
 

Introduction

This publication presents a summary of the moths, butterflies, and skippers (Lepidoptera) collected in Wayne County for more than 100 years. An enterprising entomologist by the name of Francis Webster began collecting and preserving insects that he discovered on the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station (OAES) in 1896. His collections and records eventually became the Insect Reference Collection of the Department of Entomology at The Ohio State University's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), formerly the OAES.

Collections of insects made locally and records of insects sent in for identification by Ohio residents were kept in museum-fashion accession catalogs from 1896 to 1916 and were kept in the museum housing the Insect Reference Collection. From 1902 to 1999, insects collected in Wayne and other Ohio counties have been deposited in this collection by various employees of the Department of Entomology. Some species collected in the early years are now very rare or can no longer be found in the county.

A comprehensive survey of the Lepidoptera of Wayne County was begun by Roy and Lorraine Rings in June 1997 and was continued until August 1999. The results of the survey are represented mostly by collection records in this publication, but some unusual, uncommon, or rare species were deposited in the collection.

From 1989 to 1999, Roger Downer collected butterflies and skippers in the beautiful and diverse tree plantings in the Secrest Arboretum at OARDC, and in 1996 he compiled a checklist of the butterflies and skippers that he captured at the Wooster Memorial (Spangler) Park. This was a subproject of a master plan, headed by Stanley Watson, to improve the educational and recreational value of the park for the Wooster community.

Classification and Biodiversity of the Lepidoptera

Scientifically, the Order Lepidoptera includes the moths, butterflies, and skippers. This classification is based upon a system of binomial nomenclature developed by Linnaeus, a Swedish naturalist, nearly 300 years ago. This means that each species of animal (including insects) has a two-part Latin name.
For example, Danaus plexippus is the Latin name for the monarch butterfly. These scientific names are usually printed in italics, or underlined, if italics are not available. The species name is the basic unit of the classification system. This and the other major components of classification for the monarch, which may be thought of as a family tree, are:

Species: plexippus
Genus: Danaus
Family: Danaidae
Order: Lepidoptera
Class: Insecta
Phylum: Arthropoda
Kingdom: Animalia

A species comprises a population whose members can interbreed freely under natural conditions (Wilson, 1992). Members of a species usually resemble each other more than they do other species. However, in the Lepidoptera, there are some species that are exceptions to this rule, since the males and females have strikingly different wing patterns. These are known biologically as sexually dimorphic. In the Geometridae, seasonal forms are somewhat different in appearance. Melanic individuals that are much darker than the typical members of that species occur in several families.
This classification system, besides identifying the different units, expresses the phylogenetic relationships between the various components. A genus is composed of one or more species, which have certain similarities that show they evolved from

a common ancestor. This biological phenomenon is evident in the moth genus Catocala (Noctuidae) in Wayne County, where we have found 30 species. These species have fore wings that are cryptically colored with brown, black, white, and gray markings resembling the background tree trunk surface upon which they rest. The hind wings are red, black, or orange with prominent black or white bands. A few closely related species that superficially resemble the Catocala are Allotria elonympha (Hübner) and Euparthenos nubilis (Hübner), but the differences are great enough to place them in separate genera. Each species of Catocala varies only slightly from other species in the genus, but they are all valid species since they are not known to interbreed.
In turn, a family may be made up of one or more genera that possess similar characters suggesting a common ancestral type that lived farther back in time. The Order Lepidoptera includes many families and includes individuals having four wings, which are covered with overlapping scales forming intricate and beautiful patterns. They also have a coiled proboscis for sucking liquids and an immature larval stage, usually with five pairs of abdominal prolegs, besides the three pairs of true, thoracic legs.

The Lepidoptera represent the great biodiversity of insects that may be found in just one order of insects. In North America, north of Mexico, there are more than 11,283 species of Lepidoptera, and most of the species described occur in the United States (Hodges, 1983). Covell (1984) points out that only 760 of these species are butterflies or skippers, and the remainder of the species are moths. The latter thus outnumber the former by 14 to one. There may be more than 3,000 members of this order in Ohio and an estimated 1,400 or 1,500 kinds in Wayne County.

Characteristics

of Wayne County Lepidoptera

The Lepidoptera inhabiting Wayne County consist of a dynamic and diverse population of moths, butterflies, and skippers. We have listed 901 species in the county, but several more years in collecting efforts would undoubtedly result in the addition of perhaps an additional 200 species. Another 300 or 400 species may be present but consist of species that are rare or cannot be identified because we cannot find systematic specialists who are willing to identify them.

Over the last few hundred years, many species of moths have been accidentally, or deliberately, introduced by humans and augment the county's native species. Some more well-known species are the gypsy moth, the European corn borer, the case-making clothes moth, the webbing clothes moth, the large yellow underwing, and the hop-vine borer.

Every year many species immigrate into Wayne County from farther south but do not survive northeastern Ohio's winters. Some of these migrants are checkered skipper, sachem, checkered white, little sulfur, buckeye, variegated fritillary, common tan wave, yellow scallop moth, cotton leafworm, black witch, Texas mocis, orbed narrow wing, beet armyworm, fall armyworm, yellow-striped armyworm, corn earworm, and tobacco budworm.

The monarch is both an immigrant and an emigrant since it leaves the county in September but returns the following spring. The Ohio populations of the monarch may be gradually reduced by the destruction of its overwintering sites in Mexican forests.

Importance of Lepidoptera

Economically

While most of the moth species in Wayne County are not normally seen and are of no economic importance, many other species can cause considerable crop losses or would inflict significant damage if it were not for the application of preventive and corrective control programs. One of the most important insect pests in Wayne County is the variegated cutworm, Peridroma saucia (Hübner). These cutworms have been serious pests of potatoes, particularly near Smithville. In heavy infestations, 25 to 50 cutworms per plant have been recorded (Rings, unpublished data). This pest has also damaged greenhouse flowers and tomatoes, commercial vegetable plantings, and home gardens throughout the country. The armyworm, Pseudaletia unipuncta (Haworth), has occurred in outbreak proportions in various parts of the county on wheat and other cereal crops for more than 100 years.

The European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis (Haworth), is quite familiar to producers of dent corn and sweet corn, while the homemaker is more familiar with the corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), that is removed with disgust from the ears of sweet corn. Local fruit growers wage a constant battle against the codling moth, the red-banded leaf roller, the lesser peach tree borer, the grape berry moth, and many other kinds of Lepidoptera.

More recently, the county has been invaded by a very destructive introduced forest and shade-tree pest — the infamous gypsy moth. The full impact of this controversial pest will not be felt by the average home owner for perhaps 10 years when his or her beloved shade trees are stripped of every leaf.

The home gardener soon learns that many lepidopterous species compete for his/her hard-earned produce. The cabbage looper, imported cabbage worm, cutworms, garden webworm, armyworms, European corn borer, melon worm, and squash vine borer eat the home gardener's cabbages, sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. Trees may be defoliated by spring and fall cankerworms or eastern tent caterpillars, and their limbs killed by the maple callus borer.

In the privacy of the home, the homemaker has been, and is, confronted with an endless array of damaging household pests including carpet moths, case-making clothes moths, webbing clothes moths, Indian meal moths, Mediterranean meal moths, and Angoumois grain moths. Because of the adaptability in larval behavior, almost any species of caterpillar can become an important pest if environmental conditions are in its favor. One example is the case of the spotted-sided cutworm, which underwent a population explosion in an apple orchard in 1967 in Senecaville, Ohio, and caused considerable injury to the fruit and leaf buds. The species had no previous history as a pest of any crop grown in the United States.

Biologically

Lepidoptera may be considered from a biological standpoint that most people do not usually consider or fully understand. The tremendous biomass of Lepidoptera, composed of billions of eggs, caterpillars, pupae, and adults, is an important link in the natural food chain and sustains the lives of millions of insectivorous birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Aesthetically

The aesthetic value of our native butterflies and moths is difficult to measure, but there is an increasing awareness of the beauty of nature and the conservation of these natural resources. The hobbies of butterfly gardening and insect photography are attracting many more Ohioans and are gradually replacing the collection and the display of a dwindling number of diverse species.

A great impetus to the public interest in Lepidoptera in Ohio has been the formation of The Ohio Lepidopterists in 1979.  The goals of this organization are to promote interest in, provide information on, and increase our knowledge of butterflies, skippers, and moths in Ohio and neighboring states.

Through a coordinated effort of this organization, in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, a six-year comprehensive survey of the Lepidoptera of Ohio was initiated in 1985. Important results of the survey to date are reported in several publications and reports such as Butterflies and Skippers of Ohio by David C. Iftner et al., 1992; The Owlet Moths of Ohio by Roy W. Rings et al., 1992; and The Lepidoptera of Portage County, Ohio by Roy W. Rings and Eric H. Metzler. A number of other publications are in the planning stage, including The Geometridae of Ohio and A Checklist of Ohio Lepidoptera.