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13 July 2017

13 July 2017 – Nests as Nourishment

Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria)

Seeing the number of moths caught beginning to decrease, we decided to change the location and set the trap in the quarry instead. The next morning, after I had collected the trap, I was ready to see what was inside the egg boxes. Then it started to rain, so I decided to shelter the trap in the arcade while I stood underneath the yew tree. It turns out that the yew provides little protection from the rain, probably because the leaves are needle shaped. I decided to wait for the rain to stop, which took most of the day. When it did finally stop the temperature dropped which made going through the trap quite the experience. We definitely did get more moths in the trap, but there was not a huge variety in the species. 

The Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria) appeared in our trap for the first time since I arrived. Its markings are intense and the two dots stared back at me like eyes. It is a common species which flies from Europe to eastern Siberia. Crocallis comes from the Greek words krokos and kallos, the former meaning the color of turmeric and the latter meaning beauty. The other half of the scientific name means ‘speechless’ or ‘without a tongue’ – the Scalloped Oak moth does not feed.

However the larvae of the Scalloped Oak have few restrictions when it comes to feeding. Deciduous trees and shrubs make up the majority of their diet. Some examples found in our quarry are oak (Quercus) and honeysuckle (Lonicera). They can even be cannibalistic, eating smaller larvae.

Double-striped Tabby (Orthopygia glaucinalis)

A Double Striped Tabby (Orthopygia glaucinalis) was discovered not in this trap but the previous one. I thought nothing of it as it was considered common nationally. It wasn’t until I was told this was only the second sighting of the moth in the garden in Coxwold that I realized it was uncommon in our specific area. Native to Europe, this moth stays true to its name by having two stripes which can look similar to those on a tabby cat. 

Its name Orthopygia means ‘straight’, describing the position of its abdomen when at rest. Sometimes it is placed in the genus Hypsopygia which means ‘height’, due to species of this genus having an upwards facing abdomen when at rest. The other part of its binomial glaucinalis means ‘blueish grey’, which is the color of its wings.

Double-striped Tabby (illustration)

Interestingly, Orthopygia glaucinalis can be seen flying near haystacks and thatches. Their larvae subsequently feed on such items and might also eat other dry vegetable matter such as birds’ nests. Throughout Shandy Hall, one can find birds’ nests of all kinds. There are some in the gutter, in the barn, and there’s even a thrush nest right outside my flat.  The photograph shows the nest the Spotted Flycatcher has used this year, so this might now be useful for the Tabby.

Nest of Spotted Flycatcher

Post : Walter Chen [UPenn intern]