14 October 2017
14 October 2017 – Moth and Sympathetic Magic
|Green-brindled Crescent (Allophyes oxyacanthae)|
Fortunately I was reminded that it was National Moth Night. The mercury vapour light was switched on around 8pm and a few moths appeared immediately. The trap was positioned close to the clumps of ivy in the walled garden as the recently flowered climber has been visited by lots of Red Admiral butterflies over the last couple of weeks. Ivy seems to provide one of the last sources of nourishment for insects as the year fades.
The first moth to be recognised in the trap this morning was the Green-brindled Crescent. The scientific name refers to the food plant (hawthorn – Crataegus oxyacantha) and to the Greek allophues – ‘changeful in nature’. It is a common moth and easily recognisable but the amount of green colouring present varies considerably. The one above has a splatter of colour where the wings meet over the thorax.
|Feathered Thorn (Colotois pennaria)|
The Feathered Thorn – the moth with the ‘stunted ears’ – seems to have found the perfect leaf upon which to settle. The scientific name is open to interpretation as it might be a typographical error. The distinguished German entomologist Hubner believed that the name could have been Calotois (beautiful ear) rather than Colotois (stunted ear). The fact that the moth doesn’t have ears makes it all rather confusing; pennaria from the Latin penna refers to the feather-like antenna
|Yellow-line Quaker (Agrochola macilenta)|
The Yellow-line Quaker is another familiar visitor although the one pictured above is paler than usual. The caterpillar feeds on oak and beech – further north it adds heather to its diet.It’s a busy little moth, easily disturbed and keen to hide from the daylight.
|Sallow (Xanthia icteritia)|
There are a number of Sallow moths and this one is the Sallow itself – Xanthia icteritia. The name is particularly interesting as it seems to tap in to an ancient understanding of sympathetic magic. Icterata is the Latin for jaundice and the Icterus was a yellow bird that, if caught sight of, would cure the malady. If the cure was successful the bird itself would die.
(On the south doorway of Alne church in North Yorkshire can be seen carved a Caladrius, a remarkable bird that can also take away sickness from the afflicted.)
|Pale Tussock Moth (Calliteara pudibunda) cocoon|
Two extra images of a mothy nature. This large bundle of silk was found by Chris on the back of one of the garden notices. I had a hunch it might be Tussock moth and a quick check confirms the fact. I have seen the spectacular Pale Tussock moth caterpillars on two occasions at Shandy Hall, both in the same location – beneath the sycamore next to the gallery steps. This one will be left in peace and hopefully the hatching will be seen next year.
As for this tiny creature….