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12 September 2012

11 September 2012 – ‘Mystically hid under the dark veil’

Brown-spot Pinion (Agrocola litura)

Only two moths in the trap this morning and hardly a midge in sight – how things change from day to day.  One was a Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) and the other was new – and appropriately new as it seems to be Agrocola litura, a Brown-spot Pinion.  The meaning of the Latin name is from ‘agros’ – a field; ‘khole’ – gall or bile (from the colour of some species in the genus) and ‘litura’ – a smearing on a wax writing tablet or an erasure.  This refers to the black spots on the wings which may be said to block out what is ‘written’ beneath.  Or ‘mystically hid under the dark veil’ one might say if a Sternean reference was required.This moth has probably emerged in the last day or two.  Its egg will have spent the winter tucked away somewhere for the caterpillar to hatch from in spring.  A couple of months chomping through meadowsweet, sorrel, or perhaps hawthorn as it grows larger, followed by a period of six weeks underground in a sturdy cocoon.  And now on the wing – or it will be again tonight when it is released.  The Brown-spot Pinion used to be very common but numbers have declined since the 1970’s and aren’t recovering. This one has found its way onto the catalogue for the next exhibition ‘Printed in Norfolk’ – a writing tablet moth settled on a printer’s work.