10 October 2021 - Autumnal Confusion

Northern Winter Moth (Operophtera fagata)
 

Is it a Northern Winter Moth or is it a Winter Moth?  Or is it a November Moth? Or perhaps a Pale November Moth?  I could try searching for the wingless female (of whichever species it is) in the dark tonight and that might help with identification. I did catch sight of one female on the trunk of an apple tree one squally night, but it had disappeared when I returned with a camera.  All of these species are so very similar to each other and all fly quite weakly - sadly no dodging the traffic on the country lanes.

The scientific name is also a little jumbled and out of the ordinary.  The Operophtera is a typographical error for Oporophtera (opero : fruit and phtheiro : to destroy) and refers to the damage done to fruit trees caused by the larvae.  I'll send a photograph to Charlie Fletcher and see if he can identify it - if he can I think it will be a new species.

 

Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa)

The Lunar Underwing is another variable species but the one in the photograph helpfully displays particularly clear markings.  In the Shandy Hall gardens the tendency is for the ground cover of the forewings of this species to be darker than the soft brown seen above. In the trap there were others with reddish and yellowish ground colours and the two clear marks on each forewing not so sharply defined. It seems the diagnostic marking is on the (invisible) hindwing where a crescent shape is to be found.  How one gets to see this is another matter.

 

Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata)
 

As rich a green as pea soup is the Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata) and this one must be freshly emerged from its pupa.  The scientific name means 'the washed-away, greenish yellow of corn' as the green colour soon loses its brilliance.  I can't see any red in this moth... Perhaps it is an Autumn Green Carpet (Chloroclysta miata)?  But that species is uncommon in North Yorkshire tends to be found on uplands.  From photographs found online, all examples have markings that are sprinkled over the wings and have less of a block of colour. 

9 September 2021 - Reed Mace and Wainscots

Bulrush Wainscot (Nonagria typhae)
  

A surprise in the trap this morning, a very welcome surprise.  The dominant species flying that night was immediately apparent - Setaceous Hebrew Characters (Xestia c-negrum) were clinging to every surface with dozens of crane flies for company.  A Canary-shouldered Thorn (Ennomos alniaria) and a few Brimstone Moths (Oposthograptis lutolata) added a splash of colour but it was a rather sluggish looking moth, different from any other I had seen, that was puzzling.  Was it a Large Wainscot?  I had only seen that moth (Rhizedra lutosa) once before but I didn't remember seeing so many black dots on the trailing edges of the forewings, all sweeping down to create two rather mysterious v-shapes.

I went to look at the Field Guide and looked at Richard Lewington drawings but it still wasn't certain as to which Wainscot it could be...

Bulrush Moth (1) and Large Wainscot (4)

British Moths and their Transformations (Humphreys and Westwood) provided me with an image of what seemed to be a beautiful ballet of Wainscot moths but, at the time, one was known by the name of the caterpillar's food plant only - the bulrush.  A click on the image will enlarge the differences between the Bulrush Moth (Fig 1) and the Large Wainscot (Fig 4).

At this point I contacted Charlie Fletcher who confirmed that the photograph (above) I had sent him was Nonagria typhae and that was a new species for the garden.

25 August 2021 - Caterpillars

Caterpillar
 

This brightly coloured caterpillar was seen marching on the surface of a jacket that had been worn in the rose bed.  The only plants in that area of the garden are (obviously) roses and a few ferns.  I wanted to put the scrap of life back in an environment that suited it but couldn't be sure which plant would be its food source.  I tried a mixture of leaves: rose, an apple, a blackthorn, a hawthorn and some grasses.  It waved its head in a searching sort of manner and seemed to find my choice offerings less than interesting.  Suddenly it stopped and settled down to munch along the edge of one of the leaves - but which one was it?  Now I had taken them from the trees I couldn't remember which was which. Frass was ejected and the munching increased in fervour.  

I left it overnight and in the morning it could be seen that a considerable chunk of a fern leaf had been consumed, which was encouraging.  But the larva's behaviour was worrying.  I wondered if it had consumed a leaf out of desperation and pondered whether this was now to be its downfall. Do caterpillars ever eat from the 'wrong' food out of hunger?

The following day it seemed to be trying to wriggle out of its skin so perhaps it was about to make a leap of growth but an even more remarkable transformation was taking place.

 

Pupa of caterpillar and discarded skin.
 

Here is the evidence.  The partially consumed fern leaf can be seen, along with the skin of the caterpillar now cast to one side. Between the two is a small grenade of life - a pale grey pupa.  What species it is I cannot as yet determine.  The caterpillar posessed a horn on its back and a smaller one close to its tail; there was a bright yellow marking running the length of the creature's back but I cannot find a larva to match.

 

Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar

Another caterpillar appeared on the same day.  Here the identification was without doubt - the Elephant Hawk-moth consuming fucshia leaves with disconcerting speed.  This larva will bury itself in the ground and overwinter to emerge as the brightly coloured adult.  A horn is a characteristic of the hawk-moths and can be found right at the tip of the tail of the creature.

 

Straw Dot (Rivula servicalis)

Last night was still not as warm as a summer's night should be.  It produced plenty of Poplar Hawk-moths, an Orange Sallow, an August Thorn and this Straw Dot.  The scientific name breaks down to 'a silky rivulet'.

Moth Night - 10 July 2021

Small Yellow Wave (Hydrelia flammeolaria)
 

Only one of the three evenings designated for National Moth Night was really suitable for trapping but that one gave a good cross-section of species.  A newcomer to moth-trapping (like ten year old Thomas was) saw moths that displayed a wide variety of forms, colours and patterns.  

The Small Yellow Wave (Hydrelia flammeolaria) and the Green Arches (Anaplectoides prasina) have only been seen a couple of times so it is good to be reminded of their presence. The scientific name seems a bit of a contradiction - 'watery flame' but the flammeolaria refers to the ochre coloured stripes that decorate the wings of this species.

Green Arches (Anaplectoides prasina)
 

The Green Arches was looking particularly fresh and the clear, green colouring indicates that it is probably recently emerged from the pupa.  The caterpillar feeds on honeysuckle, bilberry and primroses.

A list of moths identified in the trap included:  

Common Wainscot, Garden Grass Veneer, Poplar Hawk-moth, Large Emerald, Swallow-tailed Moth, Orange Swift, Acleris laterana, Yellow-tail, Common Footman, Beautiful Hook-tip, Small Fan-foot, Light Emerald, Bright-line Brown-eye, Flame, Burnished Brass, Green Pug, Brindled Pug, Marbled Minor, Clay, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Snout, Barred Straw, Double Square Spot, Plain Golden Y, Beautiful Golden Y, Blood-vein. 



2 July 2021 - The Prettiest Moth

 

Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata)

This is possibly the prettiest moth I have seen in a long time and only the second to be seen at Shandy Hall.  One of the UPenn students recorded it in the moth trap a few years ago, but it wasn't quite as fresh as this one which was newly minted.  The Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata) is similar to the Magpie moth in that the markings on the wings are not consistent; the clouds and the border appear in a variety of shapes.

The scientific name derives from the Greek for a 'hem or fringe' (loma); spilos meaning a spot or a stain. Marginis gives us a margin along the edges of both wings.  The moth rests with its wings spread, as in the photograph. It is common throughout the UK and the caterpillar feeds on aspen, poplars and willows.

 

Map-winged Swift (Hepialus fusconebulosa)
 

Another moth that was recorded by the students (on one occasion only) but I had not seen before.  When I saw it this morning I couldn't work it out and was beginning to think it was a malformed Golden Y.  But then something in its slightly ponderous movements reminded me of the Ghost Moth (or Ghost Swift) and I then deduced it must be one from that family.  When producing eggs following mating, the female Map-winged Swift broadcasts them over vegetation while in flight; no selection of the appropriate food-plant with precision like many other insects.

 

(Chrysoteuchia culmella)

The Garden Grass Veneer is the common name for this species which can be found in abundance throughout the country.  With its jackdaw blue eye and clearly ingrained patterns on its forewings it is easy to identify.  The white line at the base of the wings glitters brightly and the scientific name can be translated as 'to make with gold'. The larvae feed at the base of grass stems and the moth is on the wing between May and September.

 

(Phycitodes binaevella)

Phycitodes binaevella is the name given to this moth - again only seen once before in the garden.  Out of focus in the background is a Lewington drawing of the species showing (rather murkily) the two (bi) moles (naevus) that can be seen on the forewings.  It was difficult to get a good photograph but I think this one is clear enough to make it a correct identification.

Other moths from last night included : Buff Arches, Poplar Hawk-moths (6), Barred Straw (4), Udea ovalis (10), Beautiful Hook Tip (2), Burnished Brass and the first Large Yellow Underwing.

 

 

12 June 2021 - Yorkshire Larvae Crawling Tonight

 

Mullein (Shargacucullia verbasci) 

There are two Mulleins in the photograph, one is the caterpillar and the other is the plant.  

The Mullein (insect) is not recorded as a Mullein Moth - like the Ghost Moth (Hepialus humuli) or the Goat Moth (Cossus cossus) it is just Mullein; the food source is not described as the Mullein Plant either but their scientific names will ensure that identification is accurate - Verbascum thapsus is the plant.  The two mullein larvae on the leaves of the plant will find there should be enough foliage to keep them satisfied as they grow.  The arrival of the caterpillars is right on time for this species but what will have happened to other species during the frosts and the cold and the rain of early Spring?  Will their internal clocks alter to compensate?  The roses are just appearing in the garden and they are at least 3 weeks behind their regular time. 

Reading the entry in the Field Guide for (Shargacucullia verbasci) I learn that the pupa can remain underground for up to five years. That is one way to avoid seasonal inconsistencies.  Remember that Yorkshire Moths Flying Tonight is an excellent introduction to what you might be seeing in your moth-trap or on your kitchen window after dark.

NB: the scientific name of Shargacucullia verbasci has been shortened to Cucullia verbasci just to keep everyone on their toes.

6 June 2021 - A Show of Strength

 

Chinese Character (Cilix glaucata)

 A member of the Drepanidae family of which there are nine species in the UK and eight of which are Hook-tips.  This 'odd one out' is unmistakeable; once it has been determined that it is a moth and not a bird-dropping.  When at rest the wings form a tent shape over the abdomen.  The scientific name refers to Cilix, the son of the king of Cilicia and glaucata: bluish grey, the colour of the metallic scales  on the fore-wings.

This Chinese Character was found on the outside of the trap where it can be seen quite often in the morning.  It is a common moth and the caterpillar feeds on thorns and fruit trees.

 

Mottled Pug (Eupithecea exiguata)
 

Having seen and photographed a Mottled Pug before I am pretty sure that this is one.  Which is a relief as pugs require an expert eye to distinguish one species from another.  Apparently this moth 'comes to light in numbers'.  Perhaps it does, but not here.  I wonder what those numbers are? I find the underwings are the only species that turn up in numbers.

This goblin (for the eu meaning 'well' and the Greek word pithekos meaning dwarf) combine with exiguata (very small) to give its scientific name.  The number of sycamores in the garden may be the food source for the larvae as well as the blackthorn hedge.

 

Foxglove Pug (Eupithicea pulchellata)

This moth is a particular favourite with a subtle arrangement of colours on the wings.  The Foxglove Pug (Eupithicea linarata) resisted attempts to settle on a leaf to make a sharper photograph, so I had to make do with a snap of it in a collecting tube.  As the larva feeds only on foxglove flowers, especially the stamens, I will examine the ones that are just coming out to see if any hungry caterpillars are lurking inside. How they survive the onslaught of the white-tailed bees when they burrow into the flower heads in search of nectar is beyond me.

 

(Pseudagyrotoza conwagana)

A small moth with a long scientific name, the Pseudagyrotoza conwagana glistens in the sunlight.  Its name comes from pseudos: a falsehood; followed by argurotoxos: the bearer (Apollo) of the silver bow.  This is an example from the earlier of the double-broods (May to August) and can be seen in gardens and hedgerows throughout the country.

 

Waved Umber (Menophra abruptaria)
 

The Waved Umber is a strong statement of colour and design.  If seen on a wooden branch it can disappear completely.  The reason it is found in Shandy Hall garden is probably due to the clumps of lilac, or the garden privet (not the wild variety), or the winter jasmine all of which provide a food source for the larvae. Yorkshire seems to be about as far north as it can be found. For some reason it seems to be a display of strength.

1 June 2021 - One Extra Moth

 

Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda)
 

Since 8 November 2020 the Pale Tussock pupa has remained, apparently motionless, in a silken cocoon within a plastic container.  It was checked regularly to see if any changes might be visible but the metamorphosis that was taking place was hidden from view.  

The cocoon had been spun by the caterpillar and it had fixed it to the side of a clear container, enfolded within an apple leaf.  In the image above the moth has just emerged after making a small opening through the silk threads and, with the help of gravity, its wings are beginning to expand.  This takes a few hours.

 

Pale Tussock with empty cocoon

The moth was now ready for flight but remained in exactly the same position throughout the rest of the day.  When evening came it was taken to the quarry and released.  The adult doesn't feed so it wasn't important to find a food source.  Hoping it wouldn't find its way into last night's trap, I left it hidden in the grasses - one extra moth for the garden. 

The weather has now changed dramatically and I had high expectations of a variety of species to record... The result?  Six Poplar Hawk-moths and two White Ermines.

This coming Friday the gardens are open for National Garden Scheme and a moth trap is normally included.  This year, with social distancing, it may not be possible.

29 May 2021 - Mercury's Staff

Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata) 

 Carl A Clerck (1710 - 1765) was a contemporary of Linnaeus and made a considerable contribution to  the world of entomology. The naming and classifictation of spiders was the main area of his attention and his name is attributed to the second part of the binomial of this rather handsome moth - the Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata). The word bidentata: 'having two teeth', refers to the fang-like appearance of the outer edge of the wings. This moth has been identified on two previous occasions in the garden although the colouring of the others varied from the straw colour of one to the richer, darker tone of the other.  Photographed next to a hazel leaf (the larval food-plant) the white spots running across both wings seem to be diagnostic; or they are on the few seen at Shandy Hall.

Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata)

 The Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) is common throughout the county and country. It can be disturbed in long grass by day and is on the wing from April to October with overlapping generations. Xanthorhoe is from the Greek xanthos meaning 'yellow' and rhoe 'stream'.  This is supposed to refer to the patterns on the wings that are not like rivulets that wind and twist, but are straighter, like streams. Like most of the carpet family they fly at the slightest disturbance when the egg-boxes in the trap are being removed. I have learnt how important it is to make sure a moth is recorded photographically, just as a record, before trying to coax the subject into a better light or position. 

Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata)

 The Silver-ground Carpet is another flighty moth and quite often seen, but not in particularly large numbers.  Last night's trap captured only two other species, both of which were pugs with wings sufficiently faded to make identification uncertain.  A total of thirty cockchafers (members of the scarab beetle family) were drawn to the light, as well as a couple of crane flies but (disconcertingly) that was all.  Another trap will be set tomorrow and hopefully there will be more to record.


24 May 2021 - After Midnight

 

Poplar Hawkmoth (Laothoe populi)  

'Unmistakable' is the single word that (either) Paul Waring or Martin Townsend uses to describe the Poplar Hawkmoth (Laothoe populi) in the indispensable Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland (2003). Found all over the UK and on the wing (at Shandy Hall) from May through to August, the pattern on the wings is constant and the moth instantly recognisable. 

Chris Manley's book British Moths states: 'Hind wing projects well beyond forewing at rest'. In his account the name of the moth has a hyphen viz. hawk-moth.  'Our commonest hawk moth' (without a hyphen) states Newman and Leed in their Text Book of British Butterflies and Moths (1913).  The Poplar Hawkmoth is often seen for the first time in a moth trap that has been left overnight as the insect tends to fly after midnight, when most enthusiastic trappers have packed up their equipment and gone to bed. 

Maitland Emmet, in Scientific Names of the British Lepidoptera (1991), reveals the meaning and historical references of moths and from him we learn that Laothoe was a mistress of Priam, King of Troy.  At least seven other females carried this name in Greek mythology but it seems Linnaeus singled this one out for particular attention. Populi is from the second part of the scientific name and refers to the food plants of the larva: Populus - the poplars, aspen, sallow and willow.

'The wings moderately long; the anterior angulated or dentated along the outer margin; when at rest they form a triangle', we learn from J. O. Westwood's description in British Moths and their Transformations (1843).  Roy Leverton Enjoying Moths (2001) examines the hawk-moths (hyphen again) and singling out the Eyed and the Poplar, tells us how they 'engage in slow but powerful wing-flapping as the aposematic hindwings are exhibited'.

Bernard Skinner tells the moth will 'come freely to light' in his Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles (1984). 

The rain continues. This moth and one other was the total catch on 24 May. 

14 May 2021 - Little Hope

 

Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)

Since the beginning of April the gardens at Shandy Hall have been victims of the weather.  Rain, hail, sleet, snow and very hard frosts have made attempts at moth trapping a thankless task. On the very few occasions the trap has been set, the result has been 'nothing to record'.  Surely this can't have been the same for the county - or even the country?  Laying out the white sheet, plugging in the mercury vapour lamp, making sure that collecting tubes are to hand along with a couple of small paint-brushes (in case some gentle coaxing is needed) and then finding the result is but only three moths can be discouraging.

The Flame Shoulder is a successful species and is resident and commonly found throught the UK.  In Yorkshire there are two generations and the larvae find food sources in gardens, farmland, grassland, hedgerows and wetlands.  The scientific name refers to the pale streak or 'twisted rope' (plecta) that is visible on the wing.

 

Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula)  
 

There is a Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula) and a Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma).  They are easier to identify when one is compared directly against the other.  The white, wedge-like marking is cleaner on the Swallow Prominent's wing.  Leaves on the Silver Birch will sustain the caterpillar and the pupa overwinters underground. Pheosia means 'prickly plant' or 'spine' and tremula (shaking or trembling is also the scientific name of the aspen - 'willows whiten, aspens quiver' from Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott. Once this moth enters the trap it remains emphatically motionless until it is time to fly in the early evening.

 

Rustic Shoulder Knot (Apamea sordens) 

Oh, the problems of the brown moths.  Looking over the previous photographs in this blog and pondering the possibilities in an attempt to identify this moth accurately, I am left with the Rustic Shoulder Knot (Apamea sordens) as the most likely candidate. The three little dots on the leading edge of the wing and the shape and positioning of the kidney mark seem strong indicators, but I confess this is by no means certain.  No doubt, should I be wrong, the error will be pointed out and an adjustment made.

Little hope for the weekend - more rain forecast - but an attempt will be made if possible. 

8 November 2020 - Suspended in Time

Pale Tussock Moth (Calliteara pudibunda) pupa   
 

The Pale Tussock Moth caterpillar continued to consume bramble leaves and rose leaves throughout October. It then wrapped itself into the shell of a rose leaf and spun itself a shelter in the form of a silken cocoon.  It will overwinter in this form and is expected to emerge in June when it will (hopefully) be photographed.    

Angle Shades (Phlogophera meticulosa)
  

Phlogophora derives from the Greek words 'phoreo' and 'phlogos' a carried light. The meticulosa means 'timorous, from its habit of quiverning when a light is thrown upon it'.  It seems slightly odd that this species should be singled out as being a 'wing-quiverer' when so many moths exercise this pre-flight behaviour.  Linnaeus paid attention to the way the moth holds its wings and records them as being 'plicate' or folded and crumpled

Satellite (Eupsilia transversa)
  

The scientific name can be broken down into 'eu' (very) 'philos' (bald or bare). The thought is that the white (sometimes orange) spot on the forewing resembles a bald patch; 'transversa referring to the line that can be seen across the forewings. If you click on the photograph the satellite, the two, smaller white spots, can be seen orbiting the larger on each wing.  The moth is active in mild weather from September to April and will take shelter if the weather is harsh. It is a common and widespread and feeds on the leaves of hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel and field maple. 

Both of these moths are high on the list of moths flying at this time of year - but not many have been flying to the trap at Shandy Hall.  These two were the only ones to be found following a relatively milder night.  


19 October 2020 - New Species for the Garden

 

Dark Chestnut (Conistra ligula)
 

Perhaps Coxwold is a micro-climate.  Until yesterday there seems to have been a long succession of chilly days, damp days and general wetness (not forgetting wind), all of which are not good for moth-trapping.  The light will still attract the moths, for they continue to fly despite the winds and rain, but many don't make it to the sanctuary of the egg-boxes and end up soaked and damaged on the white sheet that the trap sits on.

But with the lawns cut and the leaves scissored by the blades of the mower, twenty-odd crates of apples were gathered for next year's juice, it seemed that last night might not be too bad and the trap was switched on.  Although not plentiful there were more species than I thought there would be. Red-line Quakers, along with Hebrew Characters, Green Brindled Crescents and Beaded Chestnuts; Angle Shades and Lunar Underwings were found at the bottom of the trap and a couple of Dark Chestnuts were hiding in the egg boxes - all of these regular visitors.  The Dark Chestnut (Conistra ligula) seems to be increasing in numbers in this locality.  

One moth, tucked out of sight beneath the plastic lip of the trap, seemed unfamiliar. A grey moth but not an Early Grey or a Blair's Shoulder-knot but a moth I realised I haven't seen before - a Grey Shoulder-knot.


Grey Shoulder-knot (Lithophane ornitopus)
 

According to the Yorkshire Moths website this moth has increased considerably in numbers since 2004 but is still not common in the north.  The black antler shaped mark at the base of the forewing is a key feature.  It appears in September and is flying until November when the adult feeds on ivy flowers of which there is a plentiful supply in the garden at Shandy Hall. The moth will overwinter as an adult and mate in April.  The caterpillar will survive on oak leaves  and the cocoon will be constructed beneath the ground.

November Moth (Epirrita dilutata)
 

The Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata) is very similar.  The Northern Winter Moth is similar too. Indeed I am not entirely convinced that this is a November Moth but establishing its exact identity is too complicated and without dissection probably not possible. The wing markings are only a guide and the colours (varying from brown to grey) overlap the species.

Still, another new species makes the total 447.

1 October 2020 - Hop dog

Pale Tussock Moth (Calliteara pudibunda) (larva)

Now here is a fistful of spikes.  This brightly coloured caterpillar was found in a cocoon of silken threads inside a rolled bramble (or blackberry) leaf.  Often this tactic leads on to pupation, but in this instance it was just a case of growing out of one skin and needing a newer, larger one.  'Instar' is the word to describe this transition.  The title of the post is the name of the caterpillar in Kent where it used to be found in the hop fields.  

 

Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis)

A patch of brightness in amongst the browns and duns gathered in the trap.  The Burnished Brass is startling and unmistakable and can be found in two varietes where the one (juncta) is distinguished from the other (aurea) by the broad, central brown marking being either complete or broken into two patches.  The one in the photograph is complete so it is aurea.

 

Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata)

 The Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata) rests with the end of its abdomen curled upwards - rather like the Phoenix moth.  The name covers quite a broad range of varieties of colouring but the tail is a good indicator.  When lured by the mercury vapour light it often fails to enter the trap and can be found, like this one, on the outside of the plastic covering.  It flies away quickly if disturbed like most of the carpets moths.

 

Pale Tussock caterpillar unrolled
 

Here is the caterpillar unrolled and resting on the undersided of a blackberry leaf.  The thorns can be seen on the right of the photograph and are very sharp but do not deter the undulating insect larva. The separate segments of the body are like an accordion and the underlying colour, beneath the yellow and white, is one of the deepest blacks I have ever seen.  It will continue to munch until November, grow in size and then overwinter as a pupa.


 


16 September 2020 - Frosted Orange

Frosted Orange (Gortyna flavago)
Not a frequent visitor to the gardens but welcome when it does put in an appearance.  The first Frosted Orange was recorded on 1 October 2013 and a description of its habitat and why it carries the name of Gortyna flavago can be seen through this link 

Beaded Chestnut (Agrochola lychnidis)
That characteristic common to many moths, the kidney mark, seems to be the main identification guide to distinguish the Brown-spot Pinion (Agrochola\litura), from the Beaded Chestnut. The moth in the photograph has a narrow kidney mark which, hopefully, points us in the right direction. An extremely active moth, it rushes in short bursts with its antennae waving vigorously.

Described by Michael Denis (1729 - 1800, catholic priest, poet and lepidopterist) and Ignaz Schiffermuller (1727 - 1806, fellow Austrian and naturalist) the Beaded Chestnut is reasonably secure in North Yorkshire and occurs mainly in the south.  It flies in September and October.

(Acleris variegana)
Scroll back to the 1 September and you will see another example of this moth, one that created some confusion owing to the colours of its wings.  That earlier Garden Rose Tortrix was nearly completely white whereas this one is tawny and rusty and carries a sort of black hole as its emblem.  Easy to photograph as it stays in one spot.  

7 September 2020 - Is this a Dagger which I see...?

Grey Dagger [larva] (Acronicta psi)
Clearly visible on the leaf of an apple tree was a caterpillar of distinction.  Short black hairs, a line the colour of confectioner's custard down the back, several red stripes on the side of each segment of the body and a white line above the feet. The fourth segment of the body has 'an erect, elongated, black conical protuberance' and there is a shorter tuft on the twelfth segment. 

Perhaps it is immune from attack from the usual predators?  It seemed to be in no particular rush to hide itself beneath the foliage as it gently undulated its way along the upper surfaces of the leaf.  
 
Grey Dagger (caterpillar illustration)
British Moths and their Transformations provides an accurate drawing of the creature and identifies it as the larva of the Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi).  When this caterpillar pupates, and eventually emerges as an adult, it will have a doppelganger in the form of the Dark Dagger (Acronicta tridens). When compared the two moths appear to be exact copies of each other and only dissection will determine which species is which.  The caterpillars are markedly different, however, so train your eyes to search among the hawthorn or the dog rose or the apple and one or other might be discovered.  

The Daggers are very common and carry dagger markings on their forewings as well as the mark psi (Ψ) the twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet; acronicta is from the Greek 'akronux' meaning 'nightfall'.
 
Grey Dagger: illus (Acronicta psi)
 
Which Dagger is this I see before me?

1 September 2020 - Naked Ladies

(Acleris variegana)
For a while I thought this moth was new to the gardens. The trap had been set as an extra to the National Moth Nights as the events themselves had fallen short where numbers and species were concerned.  The chilly following Monday morning didn't promise much and a total of six moths was the disappointing result : Flounced Rustic, Silver Y, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Flame Shoulder and a pale, fluttering ghost of a moth that escaped my attempts at capture and drifted into the borders.  I followed it and managed one photograph. What species though? 

The curve of the line that separates the smudgy grey markings from the cleaner white collar is the same as on the wings of the Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) but the general colouring of the moth was markedly different.  I was guided away from two scarce (but similarly white-coloured) members of the Acleris family (kochiella and logiana - one of which I had had hopeful expectations might be this moth) to a confirmation that it was indeed a Garden Rose Tortrix or Common Rough-Wing (Peronea variegana) as it used to be known.

(Acleris variegana)
Here is the more typical version of the Garden Rose Tortrix (#13) flying next to a flowering Yellow Archangel. #12 is another of the varieties of the same moth.     

Naked Ladies (Colchicum autumnale)
Thrusting through the hard ground beneath the shade of the lilac tree, is a cluster of Naked Ladies or Autumn Crocus.  Appearing magically, seemingly overnight, Colchicum is not a member of the crocus family, so the second name is somewhat inappropriate.  The nakedness of the plant refers to the fact that it is only the delicate flowers that appear as September arrives.  The whole plant is poisonous but, as can be seen from the photograph below, one moth species, the Silver Y, feeds by pushing its tongue to the heart of the flower whilst beating its wings like a humming bird.

Silver Y feeding