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11 June 2013

11 June 2013 – Where are all the moths?

The moth trap numbers are going down again. Yesterday brought in a total of 13 moths, with two new ones included! Today though we caught a total of only two : a Poplar Hawk-moth and a Beautiful Golden Y. It is almost mid-June and the numbers still haven’t started climbing. Where have all the moths gone?

Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata)

Our first new catch is a Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata). They are noted to be very common to Yorkshire, but this is the first time we have documented seeing one. This specimen looks to be very old. The dotted line that follows the bottom edge of the wing is barely visible from wear and tear. Xanthos ‘yellow’ and rhoe ‘a stream’ in Greek refer to the yellowish wavy lines on the wings of some of the members of the genus. The Garden Carpet comes in a multitude of color forms, most of which have wavy lines that are not yellowish. Fluctus in Latin means ‘a wave.’

Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi)

We caught two of the second new species, the Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi). This identification has yet to be confirmed by Dr. Chesmore. One has more pronounced colors than the other. Its scientific name is strangely given, as there appear to be very few reasons for it. Diarsis means ‘a raising up,’ a guess possibly referring to how the male of some select specimens of the genus may raise their anal tufts, but there is not enough information to confirm that. Rubus, or ‘the bramble genus,’ is odd as well because the Small Square-spot actually feeds on a variety of plants and will rarely accept bramble.

In addition our caterpillars have really started coming along and are growing larger by the day. They’ve now grown to a size that we can identify them as Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis) caterpillars. Can you find all 6?

Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis) caterpillars

– Post by Jane Wu