26 July 2013 - Grey With a Splash of Color.

Euzophera pinguis
Last night's catch was an amazing one! We beat our record yet again, this time with 600 moths in one night! We found many new micro-moths yesterday, although so far we have only identified one properly - Euzophera pinguis. It has the same body shape as the Trachycera advenella from a few days ago, though lacks the deep red coloring. The Euzophera pinguis in more common in the southern part of Britain, and the larvae feed of the bark of ash trees, sometimes killing the tree if there are enough of them. That probably won't be a problem here though as this is the only one we've found so far. Eu 'well' and zopheros 'dusky' describe the dark wings of some of the micro-moths in the genus and is an appropriate description for the Euzophera pinguis. Pinguis is less clear as it means 'fat.' This micro-moth, however, is not abnormally large compared to other micro-moths of the genus nor does it look oily or greasy to me so I am not entirely sure what is meant.

We've spoken with Dr. Chesmore recently, who has confirmed a few of our previous finds that have been difficult to identify. The three from today have other closely related family members that have a tendency to look very similar to one another.

Dipleurina lacustrata
Eudonia mercurella

Dipleurina lacustrata and Eudonia mercurella come from a subsection of the Crambidae family. This subsection is comprised of micro-moths all with flat, triangular bodies in color variations of grey and tan. Helen found 2 other similar moths last July as well (link). At first glance they all look extremely similar, but upon further observation you'll be able to find small yet subtle differences between them all.

Dis 'two' and pleura 'a rib' are descriptions of the male genitalia of the Dipleurina lacustrata. A lacus 'lake' is a habitat of the micro-moth, who's larvae feed on mosses. This micro-moth is best distinguishable from its counterparts by the larger area of cream or white in the center of its body.

Eudonia comes from the Greek word heudo 'to rest.' This is well-noted, as these grey micro-moths, when disturbed from the trap, fly directly to the stone arches of the arcade at the back of Shandy Hall and perch there. They do not move again unless physically disturbed, even if you put your finger within millimeters of them. Mercurella comes from Mercurius, either referring to the god or the planet. Mercury's symbol is supposed to be found on the moth's wing, though the symbol described is not one commonly used.

Wormwood Pug (Eupithecia absinthiata)
The last moth, making 298 species at Shandy Hall, is the Wormwood Pug (Eupithecia absinthiata). Its orange abdomen and black band make it easier to spot than most Pugs, though the Currant Pug has these characteristics as well so the two are easily confused. I believe the Currant Pug has more rounded wings and more distinct white blotches near the edges of its wings. These differences are however extremely subtle. The splash of color is nice, as most Pugs I see are simply grey and unidentifiable. The Pugs (mostly Eupitheciaare named for their attractive body shape and small size. Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) is a foodplant for the moth, but the Wormwood Pug also feeds on low-growing plants such as ragwort, yarrow, heather, and heath.

- Post by Jane Wu