Home > Moths > 1 August 2013 – ‘Bob Shandy’, the Poplar Hawk-moth.

1 August 2013

1 August 2013 – ‘Bob Shandy’, the Poplar Hawk-moth.

We were visited yesterday afternoon by Dr. Chesmore. Unfortunately, due to the wet and windy weather, we were unable to attract any Clearwing moths. Dr. Chesmore did, however, manage to collect some sawfly larvae, inspect our moth lithograph books, and help to identify and confirm plenty more species – all just in time before I leave!

Argyresthia albistria

The Argyresthia albistria is a perky little micro-moth that had some great fun wiggling its little antennae around. We have had at least three of these so far. The one photographed above was by far the most pleasant-natured one – it was the only one that didn’t zip off to who-knows-where. While this micro-moth doesn’t have it, most members of its genus have a metallic sheen on their forewings, from arguros ‘silver’ and esthes ‘dress.’ I think the fiery red coat makes up for it though. The color suits the Argyresthia albistria‘s personality more. Albus ‘white’ and stria ‘a streak’ put a name to its little white ‘hat’ and ‘trimmings.’

Eudonia pallida

The Eudonia pallida is much more solemn looking micro-moth than the Argyresthia albistra. It belongs to the group of grey triangle-shaped micro-moths that are difficult to tell apart. Other members of the genus include E. mercurella and E. truncicolella, both of which I’ve seen this summer as well. Eudonia pallida is the palest of the bunch, pallidus appropriately meaning ‘pale.’

I don’t wish to try your patience and bombard you with grey triangle-shaped micro-moths, but the one  below did land in a beautiful multi-colored spot on the brick on the back of the house. This micro-moth is the Scoparia subfusca and is the largest of the grey triangle-shaped micro-moths. It was positioned on the ground ready to be photographed, but I think it felt as if it needed somewhere more glamorous to rest. It ended up high on the brick wall. I had to stand on a very wobbly stool to get close enough for this shot. It turned out really nicely so it was well worth it. Scopae ‘twigs’ or ‘a besom,’ which is a type of broom made of twigs, describes the shape of the genus’ facial palps. I’ve never thought of them like that but I suppose they do look rather bushy and broom-like. Subfuscus ‘brownish’ merely describes the ground color of the wings.

Scoparia subfusca
The Engrailed (Ectropis bistortata)

The Engrailed (Ectropis bistortata) is a moth that I have most likely mistaken at some point to be either a Mottled Beauty or Mullein Wave. The markings are quite similar, and the Engrailed moths in pictures are often better marked than the ones we’ve had. Dr. Chesmore confirms this to be an Engrailed however. Its scientific name is a description of its wings markings – ektropos for how they wriggle, and bis- ‘twice’ and tortus ‘twisted’ for the two rows of these wriggling lines.

Lobesia abscisana

Lobesia abscisana

is our last micro-moth of the day. It’s staring curiously at the camera from the side. The reasons for its name are not entirely descriptive of the moth. Lobesis means ‘maltreatment’ or ‘ruin.’ This is actually a reference to a related moth L. botrana, which is a pest of grape vineyards, of which L. abscisana does not take part. Abscisus ‘cut off, steep, abrupt’ may be a description of the cut-offs between the bands on the micro-moth’s forewing.

Bob Shandy, the Poplar Hawk-moth
Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)

Since it’s my second-to-last-day, my co-workers Kate and Elinor surprised me with going-away gifts, one of which included a hand-knitted Poplar Hawk-moth! I figured that since this is a moth blog, it would be fun to show it, paired with a lithograph from the moth book that Dr. Chesmore admired. I think Kate did an excellent job with it! It even has fuzzy little antennae! We’ve decided to name it Bob Shandy, after Shandy Hall and the first name I could come up with, which was Bob.

The Shandy Hall moth count is now at 310!

– Post by Jane Wu