23 July 2013 - New Sightings - the Macros.

Gold Spangle (Autographa bractea)
As promised, here are the 3 new macro species that we've recently identified. That makes 290 different moth species so far at Shandy Hall! Only ten more to go!

We almost didn't recognize the Gold Spangle (Autographa bractea) when we had it. Both Patrick and I thought for a second that it was a variant Gold Spot, but then I realized that it was 1) too dark to be a Gold Spot and 2) it was missing a lot of the characteristic markings of a Gold Spot. The comparison now is obvious, but it can sometimes be difficult identifying things from memory, which can lead to confusion. Autographos 'written in one's own hand' refers to the distinct marking in the middle of the Gold Spangle's forewing. Each member of the Autographa genus, which includes the Beautiful Golden Y, Plain Golden Y, Silver Y, and Gold Spangle, has a signature mark in the middle of the wing. Below is a lovely lithograph of many of the moths formerly considered to be in the same genus (Plusia) as the Gold Spangle, though most have been reclassified. The Gold Spangle is the central moth in the picture.

Plusia genus - most members reclassified to other genera inc. Autographa

Map-winged Swift (Hepialus fusconebulosa)
Patrick was quite surprised when I showed him this photo of a Map-winged Swift (Hepialus fusconebulosa). He said he didn't even realize that these moths existed! They look very much like the Common Swift in body shape, but have a much darker base color with distinctly smaller, lighter, and more spread-out speckles - like markings on a map. Hepialos 'a fever' is a name given to the genus for the their unique motions in flight. I was fortunate enough to see a few Common Swift moths performing their mating dance one evening near Shandy Hall. They move in a sort of pendulum motion back and forth in the air. The Common Swift, Map-winged Swift, and Ghost Moth (female/male) are some of the few moths who do this. Fuscus 'dark' and nebulosus 'cloudy' describe the wing pattern on some forms of the Map-winged Swift.

The Lychnis (Hadena bicruris)
The Lychnis (Hadena bicruris) is our last new macro. It holds a most terrifying name - Hades of the Underworld. Bi- 'two' and crus or cruris 'the leg' are supposed to describe the elongated oval- and kidney-shaped markings on the wings, though in my opinion they ought to have made reference to the 'X'-like shape they make instead of how they look like two little legs. For me that is a stretch of the imagination too far. The larvae enjoy feeding on the seed capsules of campion.

- Post by Jane Wu