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1 July 2018

1 July 2018 – Moth from the Underworld

Varied Coronet (Hadena compta)

Last Friday was another National Garden Scheme open evening –and what a beautiful evening it was! As the day cooled off, a handful of visitors gathered in the garden to learn more about those tiny, elusive creatures fluttering throughout their gardens at night. And because of the heat, we had a nice variety of moths to showcase to them –including our fourth new moth to the garden this summer!

The beauty above is called the Varied Coronet (Hadena compta). It’s a relatively new moth to England: it arrived in the southeast in the 1940s and has been slowly making its way across the Isles since then. The Varied Coronet mainly feeds on sweet william and bladder campion, however neither of these plants grow in the garden; we can assume that this individual blew in from a nearby village. Its scientific name is quite interesting: Hadena comes from ‘Hades’ and compta means ‘adorned’, from its attractive pattern and colors. I’m not sure why moths in this genus are compared to Hades, the Greek god of the Underworld, and frankly I’m not sure I want to…

Beautiful Hook-tip (Laspeyria flexula)

While the Varied Coronet was the only newcomer this time, there were still other stunners in the catch such as this Beautiful Hook-tip (Laspeyria flexula). This moth is somewhat scarce in the north, but can be found locally over the southern half of Britain. Its habitat is varied and consists of woodlands, parks, gardens, and orchards. Illustrated in Humphreys and Westwood, but under a different name: Ennomos flexula

Beautiful Hook-tip (illustration)

We also had a glistening Ghost Moth (Hepialus humuli), freshly hatched, and looking to me like a Swift that was coated in a thick, white gloss. 

Ghost Moth (illustration)

The rest of the trap consisted of an array of interesting moths, including both variants of the Riband Wave, a delicate Small Yellow Wave, and two vivid Small Elephant Hawk-moths. 

We are now up to a total of 431 species at Shandy Hall, and I can’t wait to see if and how that number will change in the next month!

Post by: Gabriella Morace [UPenn intern]