22 May 2017 - Missed Pug

Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata)

Fortunately moth experts are generous with their knowledge and thanks to Charlie Fletcher the species list at Shandy Hall now stands at 403.  If you saw the blog earlier in the month this photograph will be familiar - it was used to misidentify the Brindled Pug as a Common Pug.  The Brindled Pug (Eupithicea abbreviata) used to be found (in Yorkshire) only around the oakwoods near Selby, but it seems to have spread throughout the county and is now recorded in all five vice-county areas.

The Brindled Pug can be identified by its markings but also by its hindwing being shorter than the forewing.  The morning I saw this pug (confidently misidentifying it!) another flew out of the trap at the same time.  It was sooty-black and may have been a melanic variety.

The pug feeds on oak and hawthorn both of which are in the quarry garden.

21 May 2017 - Be Prepared

(Coleophora -...)

Rain and wind make moth identification troublesome.  This metallic-winged micromoth was not only quite small but seemed keen to be on its travels.  I thought the photograph above would be sufficient for a positive identification and looking in the Lewington guide it seemed it must be one of four, metallic-winged moths.  Then I looked back through the blog to find that on 17 June 2016, Jane (with Charlie Fletcher's advice) had recorded a Coleophora maybella as a new species to the garden, identified by its stripey antennae (see below).

My latest photograph is not clear enough to be sure which of the Coleophora this one is. Does the fact that the antennae are not stripey (or are they at the tips?) mean that this is not identified but nonetheless new?
Had I taken a little more time, been properly prepared and recorded a clearer image I would now be sure.

Coleophora fluvella

The rest of Thursday night's trap contained familiar species but I needed to double check using the various websites and books that are guides to help the uncertain recorder.

Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae)

Easy to spot, the Cinnabar is very welcome, although there is no ragwort in the quarry.  The caterpillar (a bright, boldly striped yellow and black creature) is invariably seen on the flowering heads of the food plant.  There was one plant in the quarry a couple of years ago but for some reason it never appeared again - perhaps the victim of an over zealous horse-rider who have a tendency to explode at the sight of Jacobaea vulgaris. The moth does fly during the day so it might have drifted in from the surrounding pasture. Only one seen before at Shandy Hall.

Muslin moths (Diaphora mendica)
A couple of male Muslin Moths.  The distinct grey of the male and the white of the female is recorded in the scientific name - diaphora means 'distinction'; mendica meaning 'beggar', referring to the mousy colour of the male; or it could also be associated with the Carmelite order where the friars wear white.  Take your pick.  Either way I haven't yet seen a female but they tend to fly during the day.  This could be a problem for the species but maybe dusk and dawn are their times of celebration.  Dock, plantain and red dead-nettle are food sources for the larvae - non of the latter here but plenty of dock and plantain.

Waved Umber (Menophra abruptaria)
The Waved Umber stays very still.  The stillness is accentuated by the pattern on the wings which form the shape of an abruptly ended series of crescent shapes, or 'eyebrow' (ophrus) of the 'moon' (mene).  Some moths seem to display moods and this could be an example of austerity.  The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of the shrub below - lilac - at the moment in full bloom.  Winter flowering Jasmine and privet are also suitable for the pupa to overwinter and hatch in the Spring as this one has done

Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma)

The Lesser Swallow Prominent is high on the list of moths flying in May.  Relatively easy to identify, it can be confused with the slightly larger (but not always) Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula).  The Lesser will lay eggs on Silver Birch and Downy Birch trees, whilst the Swallow Prominent will choose willows and sallows.

Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi)

The Grey Dagger and the Dark Dagger are so alike that they are recorded as the same species, unless dissection is to take place.  The photograph was taken late in the evening while the rain was teeming down.  The deep black dagger markings embedded in the grey background are dramatic. 

Brown Silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata)

The last moth on this list is the Brown Silver-line, appearing as if ready to zoom off into the skies.

Brown Silver-line (Lozogramma petraria)

'Found wherever ferns grow' it says in British Moths and their Transformations (1845). This now reads as 'bracken' and it seems no alternative plants will suit the caterpillar.  I have unable to trace the meaning of the scientific name - although writing and stones seem to be part of it.
Other moths in the trap included Bright-line Brown-Eye, Brimstone, Small Magpie, Poplar Hawkmoth and Spectacle.  The weather seems promising so a trap on Thursday for the National Garden Scheme opening on Friday may produce a new species to the garden.

13 May 2017 - Plants for Moths

Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)

A collection of colours melting into each other, even the pale 'ribs' on both wings seem part of last year's fallen leaf, the Flame Shoulder nearly disappears in the photograph.  The use of the moth-trap means it is a regularly seen resident of the gardens.  If the trap wasn't here the chances of seeing this moth would be remote. This species is resident in the garden because of the dock and the plantains growing in both the quarry and gravel next to the lawns, both providing food for the caterpillars.

Plantain (Plantago)
If it is growing in the lawn this little plant is less than welcome with many gardeners.  The leaves spread out and where they cover the ground little else can grow; but the munching caterpillars of the Flame Shoulder will help keep a balance. 

Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata)

This Scalloped Hazel from last night's trap is towards the darker end of its colour spectrum. A paler version is apparently quite common but the defining characteristics on the wings (particularly the two spots) are always present.  The moth is on the wing in May and June and the larvae will feed happily on both deciduous and coniferous trees, including the hazel tree in the centre of the quarry garden.

Hazel tree (Corylus)

V Pug (Chloroclystis v-ata)

This moth confused me.  The markings are clear with the V on each wing as clear as day. When I attempted to verify the identification using the excellent UK moths website, the photograph on the site shows a moth as green as Ireland.  Completely and totally green. My frisky example had to be photographed in the specimen tube.  As you can see it is brown - but I had forgotten that green is the most fugitive of colours for moths, most losing the brightness of the colour very quickly.  Not a new species for the garden, this 'easy to identify' V Pug feeds on elder, brambles and other plants.

Elder (Sambucus)

A spray of Elder leaves looking good enough to eat - which they will be by a number of moths including the swallow-tailed moth, the dot moth and the brown ermine. All good reasons for keeping an elder bush alive in your garden.  Don't ever chop it down though - the Elder Mother will exact retribution.

Clouded-bordered Brindle (Apamea crinata)

The fern in the photograph is not the food-plant where the Clouded-bordered Brindle is concerned.  The moth had settled on the plant close to the moth-trap.  The larvae feed on various grasses so are relatively easy to please.

Two other species from last night's catch - Spectacle Moth, Pale Prominent and Lesser Swallow Prominent. 

There will be traps set for release on the following evenings : 19 and 26 May (the latter for the National Garden Scheme) 18.30 until 20.00.

7 May 2017 - Remembrance of Moths Past

Least Black Arches (Nola confusalis)
Another cold night and only three species to be found in the trap at dawn this morning. None are new, so the species list hasn't increased, but trying to remember their names is a challenge every year.  How to be sure to remember. I knew I had seen this moth before but had to cross-check.  Least Black Arches has been recorded in April 2013 and 2014 where information about its scientific name can be found but this photograph shows the patterns and colouring much more clearly.

The larval food plant is the lime and the evergreen oak.

Lime leaves (Tilia cordata)
This is the small-leaved lime that is growing over the road from Shandy Hall.  The tree is hermaphrodite and typically has lots of suckers at the base of the trunk.  A number of moth species use the lime as a food source, including the Lime Hawk-moth - a spectacular moth only seen once in the garden.  Later in summer the tree will be alive with bees taking the nectar from the clusters of green and yellow flower-heads.  The blossoms can be infused into tea and if a little madeleine cake should be dipped in and tasted, all sorts of things can spark off.

Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)
Sustained by sallow blossom, the Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) is the second of the three that were trapped last night.  Looking back through the photographs of the moths we have recorded, there doesn't seem to be a good image of this moth.  According to the reference books it only flies in early spring - I think I must have mistaken this moth's identity in the past.  This one remained motionless when being examined and photographed.  The scientific name refers to the goddess Artemis (Orthosia being another name) and the 'gothic arch' described on the fore-wings.

Sallow blossom 

The third moth can be seen below - the Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata).  Pugs are a problem to identify but I am pretty sure this one is straightforward - it is the correct season and the photographic comparisons show a match.  The distinguishing marks appear to be consistent.  This pretty little moth feeds on sallow too.

Correction.  Charlie Fletcher has identified this as a Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata) and not a Common Pug.

 Not a Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata)

28 April 2017 - Caliban's Treat

Agonopterix heracliana with Campion bud
Clean, warm, sunlight and red campions - the quarry at Shandy Hall is starting to fill with green, and the green itself is gently tinged with pink. A surprise, midway through the afternoon, to encounter a moth.  Olivia's handy phone took the photograph and it didn't take long to identify the species.  The Common Flat Body is not an inspired name and the moth tends to be known by its scientific name Agonopterix heracliana.  There was one in the moth trap in 2014 but otherwise this apparently common moth is not seen in this garden in Coxwold.  

There are plenty of suitable plants in the quarry upon which the female could choose to lay eggs, and most of those larval food-plants are umbelliferous - Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), Rough Chervil (Chaerophyllum temulum), Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria) and the one the rabbits (or squirrels) are enjoying digging up, the delicately fronded Pignut (Conopodium majus). All are plants the caterpillars will happily munch through - and a number of others besides.

Pignut (Conopodium majus) beneath Comfrey flower

"I prithee, let me bring thee where crabs grow; and I with my long nails will dig thee pignuts" said Caliban in The Tempest. Apparently the tubers taste like chestnuts and are perfectly safe to eat.

13 March 2017 - The Buds of March

Crab Apple buds

There was a frost last night.  Today the temperature is forecast to rise to 14 degrees.  Yesterday our writer-in-residence, Craig Dworkin, saw an adder basking in the sunshine near Levisham and I heard and saw toads croaking in East Cowton, near Northallerton.  Things are stirring.  The garden - the source of life for the moths that are recorded on this blog - is beginning to make its presence felt. 

Moths that overwinter as pupae are beginning to emerge.  Species that overwinter as eggs are beginning to hatch.  A source of food is essential and fortunately there are a number of bushes and plants that are beginning to push out the tips of their green leaves.  

March Moth (Alsophila aescularia)

The March Moth makes an early appearance in the year and is on the wing from February to April.  It emerges from a fragile cocoon that has lain underground throughout the winter and the adult can be recognised by the way it arranges its wings into a tube shape around its abdomen - usually. The example in the photograph has settled on the woodwork and hasn't behaved as it ought. 

The food sources necessary for the survival of this moth include the leaves of the crab apple (Malus sylvestris), blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna),  beech (Fagus sylvatica) and field maple (Acer campestre) - all of which can be found in the quarry garden.  

Field Maple buds

7 December 2016 - And the days grow short

Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata)
November has gone and December is here - and just one moth to show for it?  And which species is it that has appeared at the kitchen window?  

Driving home from York gives a fair indication of whether there is any moth activity, but each time a few fluttering ghosts have been seen the trap has been set and nothing has been recorded.  The nights have been cold and cloudless on many evenings over the last month and a half and the combination is not good for moth-trapping.  Maybe the fogginess of the scientific name is what brought this moth to the window.

This Winter Moth is not absolutely identifiable from the photograph alone.  The species has been recorded as a possibility in 2011 and 2013 - but the size of the two or three examples was the only indicator.

I will look on the apple trees this evening to see if any of the flightless females are to be found.  I saw a cluster on the switchback ride to Hovingham a couple of years ago and there were males and females in plenty.  

5 October 2016 - Flying Tonight

Flying tonight

Another clear sky and another overnight drop in temperature.  Hopes were not high for last night's trap, especially as I realised at 9.30 that I had forgotten to set it.  The head-torch battery had run down to produce barely a glimmer but, as I thought I knew my way around the garden and quarry, I set off with the extension cables. However I discovered that I didn't know my way in the dark and was sufficiently disorientated to have to retrace my steps using the cable as Ariadne's thread.

The photograph above shows the number of moths found in the trap. These six species can be found in the top section of the Yorkshire Moths Flying Tonight website - that is, they are all common. From the top in descending order they are : Yellow-line Quaker, Beaded Chestnut, Green-brindled Crescent, Angle Shades, Dark Chestnut and Red-line Quaker.  The Dark Chestnut is the least common in Yorkshire but it has been a regular visitor at Shandy Hall since this blog was started.

I pick out the moth below for its exceptional beauty. 

Red-line Quaker (Agrochola lota)

19 September 2016 - Lights and Shades

Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa)

Lights have been a problem over the last couple of weeks.  The mercury vapour light has been positioned in three different spots in the garden and on each occasion the result has been the same - wasps, crane flies, sexton beetles all in abundance, but very few moths.

The actinic lamp was used last weekend in the hope that the scissor-jawed, black and yellow hoodlums would not be attracted to this gentler form of light.  Success - no wasps - but there were no moths either.

Angle Shades (illustration)

The catch last night was better - Rosy Rustic, Burnished Brass, Beaded Chestnut, Garden Rose Tortrix, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Barred Sallow, Snout and Large Yellow Underwing.  The Angle Shades represents all these moths in that it is common and yet always striking in appearance; expressing speed in repose.  It is one of the few species recorded in Yorkshire during every month of the year.  

The food plants are various and the illustration from Humphrey's and Westwood shows the moth next to a mullein (Verbascum thapsus). 

7 September 2016 - Seized with a Vapourer

The Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua)

The Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua) has been identified in the quarry garden at Shandy Hall.  A male of the species was found clinging to the outside of last night's trap and was immediately identifiable even though I had only seen illustrations before.  The two bright white spots on the fore-wings stand out very clearly and a male it must be, as the female is flightless.

This moth sits among a group generally known as Tussocks - those that have larvae with long tufts of hair.  An example can be seen in the illustration (beneath) from Humphreys and Westwood's British Moths and their Transformations Vol 1 Plate 17.  Others in the family include Pale Tussock, Yellow-tail, Satin Moth, Brown-tail and Gypsy Moth.  The hairs can be an irritant but that is their only defence so we wish them well with it.

The Vapourer (illustration)

The scientific name is interesting. Orgyia is from the Greek (orguia), that measure of distance between the finger-tips of outstretched arms - also known as a fathom. The Tussocks have a tendency to rest with their fore-legs thrust out before them so this must have seized the imagination of F. Ochsenheimer (1762-1782) a lepidopterist who was also an actor.

The antiqua part is not only 'existing long ago' but also 'simple, honest and innocent'. Linnaeus perhaps thought of the flightless female as fitting the role of the female that would remain at home rather than 'gad about with the men'.  Westwood and Humphrey attribute the name 'vapourer' to the movements the moth makes when in flight - a 'vapouring motion'. Are we meant to envisage a dizziness, a listlessness?  I released the moth a few moments ago and it shot off like a bullet. 

Other moths in the trap included the Shuttle-shaped Dart, Canary-shouldered Thorn, Gold Spot and lots of underwings. 

3 September 2016 - Bittersweet and Strawberry Leaves

Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa)  

Wasps and more wasps.  There seem to be hardly any places in the gardens where wasps aren't nesting and yesterday morning there were over 50 wandering aimlessly around the egg-boxes in the trap. Add half-a-dozen sexton beetles, crane flies (of five or six varieties) and caddis flies (ditto), then mix in 30 or so boisterous Large Yellow Underwings - the result is a restless mixture of wings and legs and stings that make careful identification very difficult.

The first moth of any note is in the photograph above.  The Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) is not new to Shandy Hall but has not been photographed before.  One was identifed in Leamington Spa (see blog for 28/9/2015) and the difference between that one and this is marked.  I had to rely on Charlie Fletcher's wisdom to be sure.

(Scrobipalpa costella)
This moth took up most of the morning.  It was in the bottom of the trap in the same egg-cell as a pair of mating crane flies.  It was not a familiar shape or colour and I couldn't recall seeing its like before. The photograph was in focus and was backed up by a view from above. I decided that if I slowly and carefully went through the Field Guide to Micro moths, page by page, then it must be there somewhere.  After the third (unsuccessful) scrutiny I tried Manley's photograph book. Again a blank.  It was there, in both books, but I couldn't spot it. The diagnostic marks are the two triangular areas on each of the fore-wings and now that these have been pointed out (tip of hat to CF once again) I doubt I will mistake this moth in the future. 

The scientific name holds the clue as well : Scrobipalpa referring to a furrow (scrobis) near the palp (that part of the mouth of an insect responsible for touch and taste); costella from 'rib' (costa) - the part of the wing marked by the dark blotches that I had missed.

It lives on Bittersweet, also known as Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara).
It is a new species to the list, so I was right - number 401. 

Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata)
The photograph above shows the morning surprize.  Some weeks ago (30 June), the eggs that had been laid on the 7 June in one of the collecting tubes, hatched.  Since then I have been the most careful of foster parents yet despite my attentions the number of hatched caterpillars (12) dropped to five or six.  

I had read that the larvae of the Common Marbled Carpet overwinter but these in my care seemed intent on eating voraciously (during the night) and then, after nearly two months, wrapping themselves in tubes of strawberry leaves. Some died for no apparent reason - they just stopped eating, looked listless and flopped.  

I kept the pupae in a box but, with the last caterpillar fatality, I had decided to release the wrapped up pupae into the bottom of a hedge.  This morning's porridge was spoiled as two flapping shapes attracted my attention - they had hatched!  

Just before releasing them into the densest shrubbery the above photograph was taken - to my huge satisfaction.       

14 August 2016 - 400th Species at Shandy Hall

Nettle-tap (Anthophila fabriciana)
This trap is the first since Tung Chau, our UPenn student, left after her stay as intern at Shandy Hall.  She would have recognised all of the different species that came to the light apart from two, the first of which is shown above - a Nettle-tap. 

This small micro moth can be found all over the world and can generally be seen by day. The ones in the garden in Coxwold tend to cluster round the stand of tansy plants (Tanacetum vulgare) and there is an earlier photograph on the blog which shows this.  This is the first time it has been seen in the mercury vapour light trap.  It is like a miniature Poplar Hawk moth. 

Common Marbled Carpet (larva)

A caterpillar interlude brings up-to-date the development of the Common Marbled Carpet caterpillars which, when last seen on 30 June, were almost too small to see.  There have been three inexplicable fatalities of the original number but the rest seem to have passed safely through one instar (the shedding of the skin to advance growth). One has a rather fetching stripe of cherry-pink running from true legs to pro legs. 

Orange Swift (Hepialus sylvina)

Here is an Orange Swift perched on a sprig of Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) both, in their separate ways, being beneficial to the gardener.  Herb Robert is a rabbit repellent, a source of nourishment for the bullfinch (they hover and eat the seeds later in the year), and (apparently) very good to jazz up a salad for human beings.  Similar to the Common Swift, but larger, Tung would have recognised the family - the Hepialidae.

The Orange Swift has the Ghost Moth as a fellow member of the Hepialidae family, the most primitive family of moths.  The adults do not feed and the larvae overwinter twice.

The adult hovers in the air in the manner of a pendulum, swaying fitfully from one side to the other and this is linked to hepialos - a fever.  UK moths has the first half of the scientific binomial as Triodia.

The larva of the moth feeds on the roots of bracken and dock so it must be a welcome addition to the species in the gardens - and this is number 400 for the list.

1 August 2016 - Old Lady in Earth Closet

Old Lady (Mormo maura)

Tung Chau, our University of Pennsylvania student, has now finished her time at Shandy Hall.  Over the last two months she has managed to identify 25 new species of moths for the gardens - a fine contribution to the total list of 398.  I looked through the list on the Yorkshire Moths Flying Tonight website and realised that a good number for this time of year have now been recorded and identified.  I was wondering when the next might show itself and was astonished by a speedy response. 

On a spar of wood above the door of an outbuilding (Sterne's old earth-closet) I noticed what I thought was a Svensson's Copper Underwing - the wing-tip just showing but too far above ground for me to be sure.  I reached up, cupped the moth in one hand and took it to a handy cage where it settled, allowing me to photograph it.  An Old Lady!  A moth I had been hoping would put in an appearance one day but not a moth that is drawn to the light of the mercury vapour lamp, making it unlikely that I would find one.  But now...species number 399 recorded.

The name comes from the Greek mormo - a hideous she-monster, companion to the goddess Hecate; a bugbear or bugaboo.  Maura is a reference to an inhabitant of Mauritania.

The words to describe this grim, children-biting horror have been around a long time - a recent version being 'Boogieman', the evil character in John Carpenter's Halloween.

A Bugaboo!!! by Richard Newton (1792)

In his dictionary of slang, Francis Grose defined a Bugaboo as a scare-baby, a terrifying monster that bit children. The photograph above is of a print by Richard Newton who depicts Pitt riding on the shoulders of King George III.

That this sombre-coloured, large and innocent moth should have inherited all these unpleasant associations seems a little unfair.  

Welcome to the earth-closet, Old Lady.

31 July 2016 - China Clay

Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata)

My final, farewell trap of the summer attracted a great number of species, some of which have enjoyed a steady presence since my very first week (Diamond Back, Poplar Hawk-moth, Snout, Flame Shoulder), while others have come and gone (Smoky Wainscot, White Ermine, Double Square-spot). It is hard to believe that in the past two months I have seen and committed to memory some 200 species, most of which I had no prior knowledge. And my work ethic was pretty much informed by the thought that nature alone composes the sacred calendar of the moths – I am merely the scribe.

I was aware that the number of species photographed and identified has been slowly climbing, but I had no idea it was so close to 400. And still they come. 
Today, we found another new species: the Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata).

Most pugs that end up in the trap are either too worn or too ambiguous to identify. This one though, with its delicate small size and triangular wing shape, seemed worth a try. Double-striped Pug was my first guess, but even then I could not reconcile the velvety red and black pattern on the official photographs (UK Moths and Yorkshire Moths) and the markings on our moth seemed neither here nor there. One can sort of see the remnants of the central cross-lines and the shading along the trailing edge, though I don’t know how much of it was my own imagination.  Fortunately Charlie Fletcher confirmed the identity.

‘Gumnos’, meaning naked, and ‘skelos’, the leg, refer to the spur-less posterior tibia. Rufus, the color red and fascia, a band, define the characteristic tint of the markings (much faded in our sample). It is a common and widely spread species and feeds on holly and gorse.

Tung Chau (UPenn) identifying moths
With that addition, the species count has risen to 398, that is, 25 new species since I arrived! I am leaving today for London but I refuse to say my goodbye because, unlike us, there is no end, no geographical barrier to the world of moths. A few days ago, I received from my father a picture of a moth in our house in China. It was a Clay, a frequent visitor to our trap here. I know the moths will keep coming, that they will keep brewing changes in a world that will one day, so to speak, come into light.

Post: Tung Chau (UPenn)

29 July 2016 - La Plume de mon Jardin

Brown Plume Moth (Stenoptilia pterodactyla)

This magnificent plume moth from the trap on 13 July was confirmed as a Stenoptilia pterodactyla, a new species (number 397) for Shandy Hall. The wings on this moth, so sculptural at rest it is hard to fathom how they are able to beat in the air, are held at a different plane from the rest of the body. The shape of the wings is best described by its scientific name, where ‘stenos’ means narrow and ‘ptilon’, wing lobes. The torso, itself a slender pod, is propped on legs that look like slim stilts and the moth barely touches the ground. The whole thing is so evenly bronze-colored that from afar it looks less like a living thing than part of an electrical circuit.

Brown Plume Moth (Illustration)

It is distinguished from the rest of the plume moths by its reddish-brown color (hence the common name ‘Brown Plume’) and two black spots where the forewing starts to cleave into lobes. The larvae feed on Germander Speedwell, which we have in our gardens and is pictured below.

Germander Speedwell 
(Veronica chamaedrys)

Post: Tung Chau (UPenn)

28 July 2016 - Pleasant-Looking Pod Lover

(Caryocolum blandella)
Another uncommon moth found! 

The Caryocolum blandella, despite its distinct appearance, took a long time to identify because it did not appear in the sources I normally consult. A black ‘seatbelt’ wraps around its basal part; it dilates towards the tornus and is interrupted in the middle by the white ground color. The distal edge of the ‘belt’ merges with two black dots. Another set of dots that comes in at about two-thirds swim in a bronze tint. A white ‘V’ appears just below. 

It is named after the plant family Caryophyllaceae, which includes its foodplant. Karuon means a nut or a pod, and colo, to inhabit. Blandus means pleasant-looking. It is closely related to C. blandulella, which is only active in the sand dunes in Kent and Hampshire.

Red Campion
One of the food plants is the Red Campion.  Ever present, the flowers are now nearly all finished and the pods are crammed with seeds.  A beneficial plant for both the quarry and the moths that live there.

Holly Tortrix (Rhopobota naevana)

The Holly Tortrix (Rhopobota naevana), by contrast, has a rather muddy appearance that blends in with the rest of the tortrices. What got my hopes up for a new species for Shandy Hall was the shape of the tip, which looked like someone had given it a good pinch so that air could puff up the rest of the body. But I could not make much out apart from that. There seems to be a blotch at one-half that joins with the costa and the body:head ratio looks to be atypical. 

‘Rhōps’ is Greek for a shrub and ‘boskō, bot-‘ means to eat – named after the larvae’s feeding habit. 'Naevus', a mole on the skin, refers to the disc of dark scales on the hind-wing of the male.

Post: Tung Chau