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13 June 2017

13 June 2017 – Hare at Nightfall

Miller (Acronicta leporina)

I am beginning to get used to identifying the moth species located here at Shandy Hall. This time I recognized and recorded many of the ones we caught without having to use the reference books. I do not expect this to last however, as the species will change as time moves on.

One moth we caught in the trap was the Miller (Acronicta leporina). It is a stunning moth with its series of black waves and dots contrasting against its snow-like body. Its scientific name describes it perfectly as Acronicta means ‘nightfall’ and leporina is defined as a ‘hare in winter’. It truly does look like a white hare which still has remnants of its old coat on its back. 

The Miller has been recorded once before when trapping in the Museum Gardens in York, but this is its first time it has been seen here at Shandy Hall. This increases the species count to 407!

Miller (illustration)

Above is an illustration of the Miller taken from British Moths and their Transformations (1845). The caterpillar feeds mainly on the bark and soft wood of a variety of trees. Some can be found in our garden for example the oak (Quercus).

Lychnis (Hadena bicruris)

The Lychnis (Hadena bicruris) is another beautiful moth caught at the same time as the Miller. As described before by a previous intern (Jane Wu) the scientific name refers to the underworld (Hadena) and describes the X-like shape as two legs (bicruris). And just like Jane, I can’t really visualise them.

Campion in the quarry

The caterpillar of the Lychnis likes to feed on the unripe seeds in the capsules of Caryophyllaceae species such as Campion which can be seen in abundance here in our garden.

Caterpillar emerging from seed head of White Campion


Subsequently the hand-coloured image above (also from British Moths and their Transformations 1845), depicts a Lychnis caterpillar coming out of a campion flower-head. One can only imagine that the caterpillar has emptied the seed capsule and is off to devour some more.

Post : Walter Chen (UPenn intern)