19 October 2020 - New Species for the Garden

 

Dark Chestnut (Conistra ligula)
 

Perhaps Coxwold is a micro-climate.  Until yesterday there seems to have been a long succession of chilly days, damp days and general wetness (not forgetting wind), all of which are not good for moth-trapping.  The light will still attract the moths, for they continue to fly despite the winds and rain, but many don't make it to the sanctuary of the egg-boxes and end up soaked and damaged on the white sheet that the trap sits on.

But with the lawns cut and the leaves scissored by the blades of the mower, twenty-odd crates of apples were gathered for next year's juice, it seemed that last night might not be too bad and the trap was switched on.  Although not plentiful there were more species than I thought there would be. Red-line Quakers, along with Hebrew Characters, Green Brindled Crescents and Beaded Chestnuts; Angle Shades and Lunar Underwings were found at the bottom of the trap and a couple of Dark Chestnuts were hiding in the egg boxes - all of these regular visitors.  The Dark Chestnut (Conistra ligula) seems to be increasing in numbers in this locality.  

One moth, tucked out of sight beneath the plastic lip of the trap, seemed unfamiliar. A grey moth but not an Early Grey or a Blair's Shoulder-knot but a moth I realised I haven't seen before - a Grey Shoulder-knot.


Grey Shoulder-knot (Lithophane ornitopus)
 

According to the Yorkshire Moths website this moth has increased considerably in numbers since 2004 but is still not common in the north.  The black antler shaped mark at the base of the forewing is a key feature.  It appears in September and is flying until November when the adult feeds on ivy flowers of which there is a plentiful supply in the garden at Shandy Hall. The moth will overwinter as an adult and mate in April.  The caterpillar will survive on oak leaves  and the cocoon will be constructed beneath the ground.

November Moth (Epirrita dilutata)
 

The Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata) is very similar.  The Northern Winter Moth is similar too. Indeed I am not entirely convinced that this is a November Moth but establishing its exact identity is too complicated and without dissection probably not possible. The wing markings are only a guide and the colours (varying from brown to grey) overlap the species.

Still, another new species makes the total 447.

1 October 2020 - Hop dog

Pale Tussock Moth (Calliteara pudibunda) (larva)

Now here is a fistful of spikes.  This brightly coloured caterpillar was found in a cocoon of silken threads inside a rolled bramble (or blackberry) leaf.  Often this tactic leads on to pupation, but in this instance it was just a case of growing out of one skin and needing a newer, larger one.  'Instar' is the word to describe this transition.  The title of the post is the name of the caterpillar in Kent where it used to be found in the hop fields.  

 

Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis)

A patch of brightness in amongst the browns and duns gathered in the trap.  The Burnished Brass is startling and unmistakable and can be found in two varietes where the one (juncta) is distinguished from the other (aurea) by the broad, central brown marking being either complete or broken into two patches.  The one in the photograph is complete so it is aurea.

 

Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata)

 The Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata) rests with the end of its abdomen curled upwards - rather like the Phoenix moth.  The name covers quite a broad range of varieties of colouring but the tail is a good indicator.  When lured by the mercury vapour light it often fails to enter the trap and can be found, like this one, on the outside of the plastic covering.  It flies away quickly if disturbed like most of the carpets moths.

 

Pale Tussock caterpillar unrolled
 

Here is the caterpillar unrolled and resting on the undersided of a blackberry leaf.  The thorns can be seen on the right of the photograph and are very sharp but do not deter the undulating insect larva. The separate segments of the body are like an accordion and the underlying colour, beneath the yellow and white, is one of the deepest blacks I have ever seen.  It will continue to munch until November, grow in size and then overwinter as a pupa.


 


16 September 2020 - Frosted Orange

Frosted Orange (Gortyna flavago)
Not a frequent visitor to the gardens but welcome when it does put in an appearance.  The first Frosted Orange was recorded on 1 October 2013 and a description of its habitat and why it carries the name of Gortyna flavago can be seen through this link 

Beaded Chestnut (Agrochola lychnidis)
That characteristic common to many moths, the kidney mark, seems to be the main identification guide to distinguish the Brown-spot Pinion (Agrochola\litura), from the Beaded Chestnut. The moth in the photograph has a narrow kidney mark which, hopefully, points us in the right direction. An extremely active moth, it rushes in short bursts with its antennae waving vigorously.

Described by Michael Denis (1729 - 1800, catholic priest, poet and lepidopterist) and Ignaz Schiffermuller (1727 - 1806, fellow Austrian and naturalist) the Beaded Chestnut is reasonably secure in North Yorkshire and occurs mainly in the south.  It flies in September and October.

(Acleris variegana)
Scroll back to the 1 September and you will see another example of this moth, one that created some confusion owing to the colours of its wings.  That earlier Garden Rose Tortrix was nearly completely white whereas this one is tawny and rusty and carries a sort of black hole as its emblem.  Easy to photograph as it stays in one spot.  

7 September 2020 - Is this a Dagger which I see...?

Grey Dagger [larva] (Acronicta psi)
Clearly visible on the leaf of an apple tree was a caterpillar of distinction.  Short black hairs, a line the colour of confectioner's custard down the back, several red stripes on the side of each segment of the body and a white line above the feet. The fourth segment of the body has 'an erect, elongated, black conical protuberance' and there is a shorter tuft on the twelfth segment. 

Perhaps it is immune from attack from the usual predators?  It seemed to be in no particular rush to hide itself beneath the foliage as it gently undulated its way along the upper surfaces of the leaf.  
 
Grey Dagger (caterpillar illustration)
British Moths and their Transformations provides an accurate drawing of the creature and identifies it as the larva of the Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi).  When this caterpillar pupates, and eventually emerges as an adult, it will have a doppelganger in the form of the Dark Dagger (Acronicta tridens). When compared the two moths appear to be exact copies of each other and only dissection will determine which species is which.  The caterpillars are markedly different, however, so train your eyes to search among the hawthorn or the dog rose or the apple and one or other might be discovered.  

The Daggers are very common and carry dagger markings on their forewings as well as the mark psi (Ψ) the twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet; acronicta is from the Greek 'akronux' meaning 'nightfall'.
 
Grey Dagger: illus (Acronicta psi)
 
Which Dagger is this I see before me?

1 September 2020 - Naked Ladies

(Acleris variegana)
For a while I thought this moth was new to the gardens. The trap had been set as an extra to the National Moth Nights as the events themselves had fallen short where numbers and species were concerned.  The chilly following Monday morning didn't promise much and a total of six moths was the disappointing result : Flounced Rustic, Silver Y, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Flame Shoulder and a pale, fluttering ghost of a moth that escaped my attempts at capture and drifted into the borders.  I followed it and managed one photograph. What species though? 

The curve of the line that separates the smudgy grey markings from the cleaner white collar is the same as on the wings of the Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) but the general colouring of the moth was markedly different.  I was guided away from two scarce (but similarly white-coloured) members of the Acleris family (kochiella and logiana - one of which I had had hopeful expectations might be this moth) to a confirmation that it was indeed a Garden Rose Tortrix or Common Rough-Wing (Peronea variegana) as it used to be known.

(Acleris variegana)
Here is the more typical version of the Garden Rose Tortrix (#13) flying next to a flowering Yellow Archangel. #12 is another of the varieties of the same moth.     

Naked Ladies (Colchicum autumnale)
Thrusting through the hard ground beneath the shade of the lilac tree, is a cluster of Naked Ladies or Autumn Crocus.  Appearing magically, seemingly overnight, Colchicum is not a member of the crocus family, so the second name is somewhat inappropriate.  The nakedness of the plant refers to the fact that it is only the delicate flowers that appear as September arrives.  The whole plant is poisonous but, as can be seen from the photograph below, one moth species, the Silver Y, feeds by pushing its tongue to the heart of the flower whilst beating its wings like a humming bird.

Silver Y feeding




  

29 August 2020 - Moth Night 2020

Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)
It didn't snow.  The wind lashed the acers and the rain caused the hollyhocks to lie flat, but it didn't snow so we have something to be grateful for.  Setting the trap on the first of the three evenings assigned as National Moth nights would have been pointless and last night was certainly a little better - apart from the temperature plummeting.  The result was a handful of moths this morning.  

The Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) was one of the target species the organisers of the census had identified, along with any other examples from the same family.  Shandy Hall gardens have recorded a few varieties of Underwing but only four are regular : Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua fimbriata), Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes), Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe), Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea), Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa) and Red Underwing (Catacala nupta) are the ones that have been seen and recorded - the links should connect to the earlier records on the blog.

Last week I would have predicted at least a hundred Large Yellow Underwings would be found in the trap - last night there were but nine.  

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe)
 A second example of the same family is the Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe). The violet colour on the forewing is referred to in the scientific name noctua (by night); janthina (violet).  The caterpillar (which overwinters when half-grown) will feed on White Dead Nettle, Scentless Mayweed and Arum Lily amongst other shrubs and bushes.

Flame Shoulder (Ochroplura plecta)
A moth that is reliable with its markings and can't really be incorrectly identified.  The scientific name means 'the pale (or wan) twisted rope': a reference to the cream-coloured streak that runs down most of the edge of the forewing.  Plecta comes from pleura the Greek word for a rib.  The larvae will feed on Groundsel and bedstraws and the adults can be found in a wide range of habitat from wetland to moorland and woodland.

Sallow (Xanthia icteritia)
The only bright colour to cheer an otherwise totally brown collection of moths is the Sallow.  It is a very pretty moth that can be encouraged to become a resident in the garden with food available to the larvae in the form of sallow and poplar catkins and also docks.  The scientific name is extraordinary and is recorded on the blogpost: Myth Moth.

Silver Y (Autographa gamma)
The Silver Y (Autographa gamm) is a regular visitor and is common throughout the country.  It can often be seen in daylight feeding on cat-mint (nepeta) and valerian and is a speedy and purposeful flier.  The 'autograph' Y can be seen (upside down) on the forewing.

The cold wind was the reason the numbers were so low.  There were 6 Feathered Gothic Moths, a couple of Setaceous Hebrew Characters, a Lunar Underwing, a Flounced Rustic and one solitary micromoth that disappeared like a flash when the trap was opened.  

21 August 2020 - Uncertain Identities

 
Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes)
The first thought was 'Lunar Underwing' but that moth doesn't seem to incorporate the dark triangular markings towards the wing tips; then 'Lesser Yellow Underwing' which I could have easily determined if I had encouraged the moth to move and display its coloured hindwings - if it had them.  I have looked at Rustics and Quakers but cannot find one to  match it sufficiently accurately.  I'll have to wait for an expert to point out the diagnostic points of the wing patterns.  I think it must be an underwing...

PS.  It's a Lesser Yellow Underwing after all - thanks to Charlie Fletcher's diagnosis.

Northern Spinach (Eulithis populata)*
If correct, this moth took a while to identify, mainly because it is worn and the markings on the wings are blurred.  Normally the abdomen of the Northern Spinach (Eulithis populata) - for that is what I believe it to be - is raised, somewhat like the Phoenix (Eulithis prunata), which would have helped had this moth taken up that attitude. If I am correct this is only the second time I have seen this moth at Shandy Hall - a far better specimen and photograph can be seen here.

PS. And this turned out to be a Dun-bar (Cosmia trapezina) and not a Northern Spinach after all.  In the field guide there are five varieties of this moth and there is one that corresponds to the photograph above.

*Errata: Dun-bar (Cosmia trapezina) 

Feathered Gothic (Tholera decimalis)
A regular annual visitor to the gardens, the Feathered Gothic (Tholera decimalis) will have overwintered as an egg.  The eggs will have been distributed over grassland, similar to the Swift moths, and when the larvae hatched they will have fed on grasses, including Mat-grass and Sheep's-fescue. Poda von Neuhaus (1723 - 1798) an Austrian entomologist, is the name linked to this moth.  He was the curator of the astronomic observatory in Graz and was a professor of maths and physics.  Perhaps his night-time observations lead to a mothy interest.

(Bryotropha domestica)
Keeping its head down in the tight crease of the egg-box at the bottom of the trap was a new moth. I am convinced that Bryotropha domestica is the species photographed and raises the total number to 445.  

The scientific name refers to the Greek for moss (bruon) and trophe (food) indicating the possible food source - moss; which often grows on houses, hence the 'domestic' reference. But this moth does not live indoors.  
This particular one was well marked and quite shiny and not too difficult to identify.  

Hermann von Heinemann (1812 - 1871) was a customs inspector and author of The Butterflies of Germany and Switzerland and it is his name that is associated with this little moth. 

  (Acleris laterana) or (Acleris comariana)
Another. I have searched diligently and (I thought) carefully to end up with identities which may well be incorrect.  The moth is either Acleris laterana or Aclaris comariana. Or at least I think it is.  The Acleris family are well represented on this blog.  The family name means 'unallotted', perhaps so devised to accommodate species that were not allocated to another.  

If a search of this site is undertaken (on the home page) using the word 'acleris' you will find  a number of moths of a similar shape, looking somewhat like shields and often beautifully decorated.  The one in the photograph has the reddish-brown colouring that could identify it as laterana : a brick; but it could equally be comariana : marsh cinquefoil, a larval food plant.  

Whichever of these two species it turns out to be will raise the number once again.

PS.  The third post scriptum reveals that laterana and comariana  cannot be identified without dissection so this new moth is number 446 - but it is either one or the other.  What a confusing trap that turned out to be - good preparation for National Moth nights this weekend. 


8 August 2020 - Sitting on the Fence

Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)
The Ruby Tigers seen in the garden at Shandy Hall have all been bright red.  This one could be the variant sub-species  borealis with its forewings more of a woody brown.  There is a pink tinge to the wings on this specimen but there is also one clearly displayed, ruby-coloured front leg. The scientific name is slightly odd - phragmatobia translates as living (bio) on a fence (phragmatos).  As this moth often flies by day it might simply refer to  where the moth was first encountered - on a fence.  The shape resembles the Muslin moth and the black spots reinforce this.

Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)
Not as common a moth as its name suggests - although that might just be this locality.  I thought this was a Wood Carpet (Epirre rivata) but I was mistaken as that moth has not yet been recorded in this neck of the woods.

The Common Carpet overwinters as a pupa and can be found in a variety of habitats from hedgerows to sand-dunes and from gardens to moorland.

Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis corylana)
Immediate identification is sometimes straightforward but often not.  Sometimes there is a feeling that the moth has been seen in previous moth-traps even if the name of the species has been forgotten.  This little moth with wing -markings like a network, was walking purposefully amongst the dozens of Underwings hiding in the egg-boxew.  It looked new to me but I couldn't be sure what species it was. Confirmation that the Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix was on the wing in August was confirmed but the three dark patches on each wing seemed more suited to the Rhomboid Tortrix.  Charlie Fletcher (moth recorder) kindly confirmed my first thoughts and identified a Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix - which is excellent as that brings another new species for Shandy Hall - number 444. 

Great Chequered Moth (Lozotoenia corylana)

Description

The Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix is illustrated above with its description from British Moths and their Transformations by Humphreys and Westwood. The first part of the binomial is recorded as Lozotoenia and was the one in use when the drawings were made: loxos (oblique) and tainia (band). The text refers to the three distinct markings on each wing using specific words for international recognition. At the end of the entry it can be seen that there is a reference to a third identity : Pyralis corylana where the 'pyralis' refers to a winged creature that (according to Pliny) lived in fire.  Click on the text and it will enlarge. 

Gold Spot (Plusia festucae)
A strikingly marked and a regular visitor to the gardens is the Gold Spot - always a pleasure to see.

4 August 2020 - Botticelli Moth

(Blastobasis adustella)

Phillip Christos Zeller (1808 - 33) was a distinguished German professor and microlepidopterist.  He gave names to 186 new species of moths and was the author (along with H T Stainton, Heinrich Frey and J W Douglas) of the 13-volume monograph The Natural History of the Tineina. His collection of moths is now in the Natural History Museum in London.  This little moth was one that was named by Zeller. Blastos means a shoot and basis a step or pedestal upon which something stands. These two words refer to the antenna where a pecten (or scallop shape) can be seen. Somewhat the other end of the scale from Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus.  And why not?  I tried to identify this moth from the little shoot-like labial palps curling upwards (they can be seen if you click on the photograph) but the illustration in the Field Guide is from above the insect rather than from the side.

If the rain holds off there will be another trap this evening...

17 July 2020 - Charles Bonnet and the Homunculus

 
(Argyresthia bonnetella)
A moth with a connection to Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy? Odd but delightfully true.  

If the scientific name, Argyrthesia bonnetella, is examined, its sources can be identified. Arguros is the word for silver and esthes translates as dress. The two words combined refer to the metallic sheen on the moth's wings. Bonnetella is in honour of the Swiss entomologist, Charles Bonnet (1720 - 93) who studied plant lice. He coined the term 'phyllotaxis' to describe the arrangement of leaves on plants and also believed that all future generations of mankind existed in the form of homunculi - miniature human beings - who grow during gestation and are born when they reach the correct 'baby' size.  In the novel, Walter Shandy fears for his son Tristram's imminent birth and is concerned that 'the little gentleman' or homunculus will have insufficient strength owing to the peculiar nature of his conception - but this is a digression too far, I fear.  Read the opening chapter and you will understand.

The little micro-moth, with its dark, oblique cross-band, was identifiable from illustrations and photographs, but required confirmation from Charlie Fletcher as I couldn't be certain.
Now I am sure I won't forget species number 442 (Hooray for a new species!) - a mothy speck to carry a nine volume, eighteeth-century novel as an association.


(Paraswammerdamia nebulella)
I doubt I would  ever have been able to identify the moth above.  Now I have examined the photograph carefully and can see where the distinguishing colourings are (white head, grey thorax and black dots), I know what species it is - but the insect  is so small I doubt I would recognise it in the future without help. The scientific name refers to para (in support of) the Dutch entomologist Jan Swammerdam (1637 - 80) who demonstrated that the various stages of an insect's development (egg, larva, pupa, adult) were all the same insect; the second part nebulella means smoky or misty recording the colouring of the moth.  And this is species number 443.  Two new species for the gardens in one night is a bonus.



Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola)
The Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola) has been photograped and recorded in the past, but not in the true dingy state - grey.  Normally this moth is a creamy yellow and has an appropriate nickname - Melon Seed, for when it is that creamy yellow, that is what it resembles.


Beautiful Plume (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla)
The Beautiful Plume (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla) is difficult to photograph.  If disturbed it zips away and is gone.  This one was persuaded into a plastic inspection tube and then nudged gently until it settled in the screw-cap. Very carefully the tube was unscrewed and the moth obligingly remained still enough to get a decent image in the camera.  The Plumes are a favourite.  'Amblus' and 'ptylon' are Greek words that mean 'blunt feather' and 'akantha' means 'thorn' alluding to the scale teeth on the lobe of the hind wing - rather difficult to see.  Foodplants for the caterpillar include Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica) which is still just flowering in  the gardens.  Crane's-bills are also plentiful and should benefit the Plume.

Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica)
Moth numbers from this trap were encouraging.  Over fifty different species including : Mother of Pearl (at least fifty in number), Common Footman (in abundance), Elephant Hawk-moth, Poplar Hawk-moth,  Beautiful Hook-tip, Snout, Swallow Prominent, Burnished Brass, Plain Golden Y, Muslin Footman, Light Emerald and Garden Pebble. 

13 July 2020 - Changed Identities

Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata)
The weather continues to complicate matters.  Last night the temperature dropped following a sunny, almost hot, day and the number of moths in the trap reflects the chilly flying conditions.  On the floor of the 'arcade' in the garden there is evidence of some moth activity.  One spot in the rafters is a favourite place for a bat feast, the stripped wings of Large Yellow Underwings littering the floor beneath, but there are only two or three evident this morning.  As bats eat a variety of flying insects perhaps a decent sized moth is worth a few of the hundreds of mosquitos or airborne beetles that make up a bat diet.

The Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata) has only been recorded in the garden once before - which is difficult to believe as it is very common throughout Yorkshire.  Although common, little is known about the caterpillar and which plant sustains the larva.  In captivity the caterpillar preference is for withered leaves indicating that it normally lives close to the ground.

Small Fan-footed Wave (Ptychopoda dilutaria)
The illustration from Humphreys and Westwood's book 'British Moths and their Transformations' is accurate.  Humphreys (the illustrator) states that 'the whole of the insects figured in this plate are from specimens in the cabinet of Mr. Bentley... who has most liberally allowed me to take all the insects I required to my own house for the purpose of copying'.  Other moths depicted on this plate include: Lace Border, Lesser Cream Wave, Mullein Wave, Latticed Heath and Speckled Yellow - all hand-coloured. 
When the book was published the scientific name was different to the one that it now has - Ptychopoda dilutaria.  Ptychos is the Greek word for a fold; dilutaria meaning 'washed out' or 'faint'.


Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria)
The photograph above shows a moth that has kept its scientific name but has slightly adjusted its common name.  'Scollop' is generally the pronounciation for the shell-fish but the spelling is usually with an 'a' - scallop.  The only scollop in the OED is the word given to a double-ended sharpened stick used by a thatcher to fix the reeds on a roof.  Where on earth is this going?

The moth itself is a regular visitor to the Coxwold gardens and is probably one of the easiest to identify

Scolloped Oak (illus Humphreys)
Once more Mr. Bentley's cabinet provides the illustrator with the specimen to copy.


 

7 July 2020 - Black and White

Peppered Moth (Biston insularia)
All the Peppered Moths I have seen in the gardens at Shandy Hall have been the whiter versions of the species - until now.  Here is Biston insularia ('insular' meaning : pertaining to an island) which is halfway between Biston betularia and B. carbonaria. This intermediate member of the species is not the result of cross-breeding and is genetically distinct.  
For a full colour range showing the degrees of variety see the UK Moths website here.  

Melanism ('black pigment') takes place in a number of other species of UK moths: Pale Brindled Beauty, Scalloped Hazel, Hebrew Character and Clouded-bordered Brindle to name but four.  The dark, black  carbonaria variety of the Peppered Moth seems to be decreasing in the county.

 
Common Footman (Eilima lurideola)
The description in the Field Guide is interesting -'rests with forewings gently curled over body'. All moths fold their wings in particular ways but to include the word 'gently' shows the authors (Waring and Townsend) have been particularly beguiled by this neat little moth. 

'Footman' was the name given to the servant who would run alongside his master who was mounted on horseback. The term developed to include the liveried footman who waited at table dressed in a garment that 'curled gently over body'.  It is a very common moth at this time of year.  If disturbed it jerks and twitches in spasms rather than just taking flight. 

 
Marbled Minor (Oligia strigils)
Tawny Marbled Minor (Oligia latruncula) and Rufous Minor (Oligia versicolor) are the other possibilities. I am pretty certain that this is a Marbled Minor. It can be identified more easily when a splash of white is visible on the wing edges folded over the abdomen, but this melanic version seems likely.  The wing markings are complex but characteristic.  Oligia is from the Greek oligos meaning 'small' and strigilis refers to the strigil or scraper used by bathers, the shape of which can be seen as a 'little line' on the forewing.

Uncertain (Hoplodrina alsines)
It could equally well not be an Uncertain and be a Mottled Rustic (Caradrina morpheus).  The evidence?  Both are a similar shade of brown - sort of softly blurred caramel - and there were numerous examples in the trap. Both fly during this late June, early July time and both have been recorded once before at Shandy Hall.  Hoplon is the Greek word for a weapon and alsines refers to the Bog Stitchwort, a delightful plant found on water  margins and  one of the foodplants of the species.

28 June 2020 - Post Script

Beautiful Snout (Hypena crassilis)
I hoped there might be another Beautiful Snout in the trap and there was - still not in perfect condition but much better than the first.  The velvety, chocolate-coloured wing markings were clear and the little distinctive lines on the wing-tips easily seen. I have looked out for bilberry bushes (the larval foodplant) in the immediate locality but found nothing.  I suppose if there are repeat visits next year then it might be an indication that a colony has established itself - or it might just be the mighty winds that we have experienced recently.

Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata)
The Shaded Broad-bar I have seen only once before in July.  The scientific name is taken from the Greek for 'wing of darkness' where the reference is to the grey, shadowy stripe across the forewings, with outlines the colour of Caramac.

These two are representative of a considerable number of moths captured on Friday night in time for the National Gardens Scheme opening - the first this year, due to the virus.  Since that balmy, sunlit evening it has rained and rained...  

24 June 2020 - From Kent to Yorkshire

Beautiful Snout (Hypena crassalis)
I knew I hadn't seen this moth before but it was a rather worn little creature and to begin with I didn't pay it much attention. The orange mark just behind the head is not a feature that might aid identification, it is where tufts of hair would normally cover the now exposed thorax. 

The shape of the wings reminded me of the Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis) which has appeared only once before at Shandy Hall and then it was somewhat tattered - but it was clearly different when I had been through the various books. 
One moth seemed to match the wing patterns which was the Beautiful Snout, but it is not listed as one of the species that one would expect to see on the 'Flying tonight' website. Charlie Fletcher kindly confirmed its identity and tells me that it has spread across the county in recent years.  

The bilberry plant (Vaccinium myrtillus) seems to be the determining factor in the life of this moth - except for one location in Kent where a local colony of Hypena crassalis thrives but bilberry is not to be found.

Johan Christian Fabricius (1745 - 1808) was responisble for the scientific name.  Fabricius was a student under Linneaus and is considered one of the most eminent of entomologists and is responsible for the naming of nearly 10,000 species of insects. 

The Beautiful Snout is not as beautiful an example as it could be, but it is species number 441 for the garden and is very welcome.

Riband Wave (Idaea aversata)
A true moth of the garden and commonly distributed throughout the country. Wood avens, dandelions, primrose and docks - the caterpillar is partial to all.  'Riband' is another spelling of ribbon. The second part of the scientific name (Mt Ida was referred to in the last post) is aversata meaning 'on the other side of the page' where the page means the surface of the wing. Linnaeus was stating that the markings on the under side of the wings were distinctive.
The Riband Wave is a fine example of a moth that can match any butterfly with its beautiful markings.


Green Oak Tortrix (Tortrix viridana)
The Green Oak Tortrix stands out in the moth trap and is easily identifiable.  It is a micro moth, they are usually (but not always) quite small and it is a very soft-acid green colour.  Always impatient and ready to be off, it had to be photographed in the familiar plastic tube to get any sort of identifiable image.  The larvae feed on mature broad-leaved trees and the pupa can be found in a rolled or folded leaf.

July Highflyer (Hydriomena furcata)
Green is the theme and is continued in the July Highflyer (Hydromena furcata).  A fine example was found in last night's trap, obviously freshly hatched from the pupa which has developed from the overwintering egg.  Click on the image to see more closely.  The scientific name is a little strange - Hydromena translates as 'remaining as a water-pot; furcata - a two-pronged fork represented by the markings on the wings.
Other moths last night included : Agapeta hamana, Chrysoteuchia culmella, Burnished Brass, Small Fan-foot, Poplar hawk, Clay, Heart and Dart, Udea olivalis, and a couple of others that I need to triple check.