30 July 2014 - Dark Spinach

Dark Spinach (Pelurga comitata)

Patrick and I had different opinions this morning regarding the identity of a rather bulky moth with fan-shaped wings and uplifted abdomen. Patrick reckoned it was a Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata), just like an earlier visitor to the garden three days ago. I believed (and hoped) that it was a Dark Spinach (Pelurga comitata), which would be completely new to the garden.

Superficially, the two moths look alike. Both hold their wings spread out like a carpet; both display semicircular bands expanding outwards from the thorax to the wingtips. On a closer look, however, the decorations on their wings  display different characteristics.
The patterns on the wings of the Shaded Broad-bar are silky soft. The yellow band at the edge of the wing melds into a dark orange stripe; the orange, in turn, dissolves to a sea-green color. The wings of the Shaded Broad-bar form a graceful design, like the smooth curves carved out on a sandy beach.

Instead of the soft sandy shore, the wings of the Dark Spinach resemble the hard shoals on a rugged coast. The dark brown bands on the moth's wings are sharply divided from the beige background. The lines of division are harsh and uneven. The Dark Spinach's wing-pattern resembles the geological layers on the body of the rock, preserving the fault-lines as well as the scars of deep erosion. 'Pelurga', in fact, describes to the moth's earthen, clay-coloured appearance. ('comitata', the second part of the scientific name, means 'a companion'.)

Following a consultation with Dave Chesmore it was confirmed that the specimen found was indeed the hardy, rocky Dark Spinach. This means Shandy Hall Moths now increases to 350.

---Post by Bowen Chang