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13 July 2020

13 July 2020 – Changed Identities

Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata)

The weather continues to complicate matters.  Last night the temperature dropped following a sunny, almost hot, day and the number of moths in the trap reflects the chilly flying conditions.  On the floor of the ‘arcade’ in the garden there is evidence of some moth activity.  One spot in the rafters is a favourite place for a bat feast, the stripped wings of Large Yellow Underwings littering the floor beneath, but there are only two or three evident this morning.  As bats eat a variety of flying insects perhaps a decent sized moth is worth a few of the hundreds of mosquitos or airborne beetles that make up a bat diet.

The Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata) has only been recorded in the garden once before – which is difficult to believe as it is very common throughout Yorkshire.  Although common, little is known about the caterpillar and which plant sustains the larva.  In captivity the caterpillar preference is for withered leaves indicating that it normally lives close to the ground.

Small Fan-footed Wave (Ptychopoda dilutaria)

The illustration from Humphreys and Westwood’s book ‘British Moths and their Transformations’ is accurate.  Humphreys (the illustrator) states that ‘the whole of the insects figured in this plate are from specimens in the cabinet of Mr. Bentley… who has most liberally allowed me to take all the insects I required to my own house for the purpose of copying’.  Other moths depicted on this plate include: Lace Border, Lesser Cream Wave, Mullein Wave, Latticed Heath and Speckled Yellow – all hand-coloured. When the book was published the scientific name was different to the one that it now has – Ptychopoda dilutaria.  Ptychos is the Greek word for a fold; dilutaria meaning ‘washed out’ or ‘faint’.

Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria)

The photograph above shows a moth that has kept its scientific name but has slightly adjusted its common name.  ‘Scollop’ is generally the pronounciation for the shell-fish but the spelling is usually with an ‘a’ – scallop.  The only scollop in the OED is the word given to a double-ended sharpened stick used by a thatcher to fix the reeds on a roof.  Where on earth is this going?

The moth itself is a regular visitor to the Coxwold gardens and is probably one of the easiest to identify

Scolloped Oak (illus Humphreys)

Once more Mr. Bentley’s cabinet provides the illustrator with the specimen to copy.