Congratulation to JoAnne Russo for winning the July 2020 Photo-observation of the Month. Perhaps the American Toad was looking for a moth meal, but instead it was a moth resting pad. The moth species is in the genus Halysidota and is either a Sycamore or Banded Tussock Moth, but one can’t be sure without examining it under a microscope.
We wondered if perhaps the moths were also licking moisture on the toad’s skin. Some insects can be found licking at dung, carrion, wet soil, or even at animal tears and sweat. This behavior is called “puddling” and can be important for obtaining salts and amino acids. Male butterflies and moths can have higher reproductive success when they transfer salts and amino acids to the female with the spermatophore during mating as a nuptial gift, enhancing the survival rate of the eggs.
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fav’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!