POTD: Sheep Moth

Sheep Moth
Bozeman, Montana
2021

There is a sloping hillside area of our land that, originally covered in grass and sagebrush, has been gradually encroached upon by spreading snowberry bushes. Snowberry is a native plant in our area and there is nothing wrong with it in general, but in this case I did not like the fact that it was choking out the sagebrush and flowers so a few years ago I started mowing part of it. That has resulted in at least the grass and wildflowers returning each year and it perhaps is giving the sagebrush a chance as well. Recently in walking the area, I came across this striking sheep moth on one of the wildflower stalks. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one before, or if I have, it was a long time ago. When I looked them up on the internet, one source I read indicated that the sheep moth caterpillars liked to pupate on snowberry bushes (among other plant varieties) so I was feeling bad for whacking away at its habitat. But then another source said they are found in sagebrush areas, so I felt better about my attempts to defend our sagebrush from snowberry incursion.

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