16 June 2017 - Moth Therapy

Mottled Rustic (Caradrina morpheus)

Most of Wednesday was spent identifying the new moths that were trapped on Tuesday night. Of these there was one which I thought was a Mottled Rustic (Caradrina morpheus). Looking back through the blog, there was one post on a Mottled Rustic in 2012 and that entry was about how we had had to make a correction. The moth thought to be a Mottled Rustic was an error and instead was an Uncertain (Hoplodrina alsines)

Fearing making the same mistake again, I double checked my assumption and it was confirmed, which is great because now we can finally say we have had the Mottled Rustic and our species count rises to 408!

The scientific name for the moth is interesting. Caradrina was named by Ferdinand Ochsenheimer, a German actor and entomologist, focusing mainly on moths and butterflies. He himself stated that Caradrina was the name of a river in Albania; morpheus, named by Johann Siegfried Hufnagel (1766), refers to the god of dreams and it is thought to be named that because of an affinity between the ‘dirty’ moth and the divinities of the night.

Ochsenheimer lived a rather busy life as he first started studying natural history but later took up acting. While he was getting increasingly well-known and popular, stress started to build which led to him taking long walks as per advice from a doctor. These walks revived his love for Lepidoptera and soon he would be searching for moths and butterflies after rehearsals.

While trying to identify the moth, I thought there was a stain on my computer screen as the moth has the faintest vertical streak of orange on each wing. After realizing that my eyes were not playing tricks on me, those streaks helped me distinguish it from other species.


Nettle 


The larvae of the moth like to feed on a variety of herbaceous plants. One of the plants is nettle (Urtica), which, fortunately, I have yet to experience the pain from contact that people describe. Nettle can also be found in our garden.



Post : Walter Chen [UPenn intern]