Home > Moths > 14 August 2016 – 400th Species at Shandy Hall

15 August 2016

14 August 2016 – 400th Species at Shandy Hall

Nettle-tap (Anthophila fabriciana)

This trap is the first since Tung Chau, our UPenn student, left after her stay as intern at Shandy Hall.  She would have recognised all of the different species that came to the light apart from two, the first of which is shown above – a Nettle-tap. 

This small micro moth can be found all over the world and can generally be seen by day. The ones in the garden in Coxwold tend to cluster round the stand of tansy plants (Tanacetum vulgare) and there is an earlier photograph on the blog which shows this.  This is the first time it has been seen in the mercury vapour light trap.  It is like a miniature Poplar Hawk moth. 

Common Marbled Carpet (larva)

A caterpillar interlude brings up-to-date the development of the Common Marbled Carpet caterpillars which, when last seen on 30 June, were almost too small to see.  There have been three inexplicable fatalities of the original number but the rest seem to have passed safely through one instar (the shedding of the skin to advance growth). One has a rather fetching stripe of cherry-pink running from true legs to pro legs. 

Orange Swift (Hepialus sylvina)

Here is an Orange Swift perched on a sprig of Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) both, in their separate ways, being beneficial to the gardener.  Herb Robert is a rabbit repellent, a source of nourishment for the bullfinch (they hover and eat the seeds later in the year), and (apparently) very good to jazz up a salad for human beings.  Similar to the Common Swift, but larger, Tung would have recognised the family – the Hepialidae.

The Orange Swift has the Ghost Moth as a fellow member of the Hepialidae family, the most primitive family of moths.  The adults do not feed and the larvae overwinter twice.

The adult hovers in the air in the manner of a pendulum, swaying fitfully from one side to the other and this is linked to hepialos – a fever.  UK moths has the first half of the scientific binomial as Triodia.

The larva of the moth feeds on the roots of bracken and dock so it must be a welcome addition to the species in the gardens – and this is number 400 for the list.