Yukon man captures 'first record' of ghost moth in territory

tech

CBC/tech

Peter Skeget of Watson Lake, Yukon, captured a photo of a four-spotted ghost moth this week. The National Identification Service says it’s the first documented evidence of the insect in the territory. (Peter Skeget/Facebook)

A longtime resident of Watson Lake, Yukon, has contributed to the world of science — simply by taking a picture.

This week, Peter Skerget took a photo of a fuzzy yellow and brown moth that he thought was unusual.

He then posted the image on Facebook, asking neighbours if they had seen such a creature before.

The CBC emailed the picture of the insect to Ottawa for identification through the National Identification Service (NIS), a federal service offered through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The service usually deals with invasive species and agricultural concerns but agreed to have a look.

Entomologist Chris Schmidt, a research scientist who contributes to efforts of the NIS, said the picture “is in fact the first documented record for the Yukon” of a four-spotted ghost moth.

The moths had previously been documented in Alaska and the southern N.W.T.

Skerget has lived in Watson Lake since 1980 and says he doesn’t recall seeing a ghost moth before. 

Skeget spotted this moth clinging to the side of his motel. (Peter Skeget/Facebook)

He spotted this one was clinging to the side of the Cedar Lodge Motel, which he owns and operates.

“I guess I just like nature and pay attention to stuff,” Skerget said. “It was camouflaged and I looked closely and realized I had never seen one like that before.”

‘Valuable’ evidence 

Owen Lonsdale, manager of the NIS, says the picture is useful.

“It means it’s the first specimen officially reported [in Yukon]. There is evidence, and it is tied to a photographic record, which is great,” he said. 

“It’s a scientifically useful data point. This is valuable when we’re talking about the first record for a territory.”

Skerget is keeping his eyes peeled for more ghost moths.

But it seems the critter may have ghosted him.

“I keep looking at that spot, and it never came back,” he said.