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15 June 2015

15 June 2015 – Scissored Wings

Figure of Eighty (Tethea ocularis octogesimia)

This post gate-crashed into the internet before I had time to realize I had pressed the wrong button but I hope all is now under control.  Although neither species is new to the gardens both of these moths are worthy of comment.  The Figure of Eighty (Tethea ocularis octogesimia) is new to me.  Jane identified this moth a couple of years ago and that is the only one that has been recorded.  A strikingly attractive moth with the number 80 on its wings and the furriest, most elegant legs.  When at rest it adopts a tube-like appearance – a bit like the Buff-tip.  In the larval state it seems the caterpillar rests by day between two leaves that are spun together flat.

Figure of Eighty (illustration)

The Garden Pebble has been recorded before but the photograph was rather poor and the story behind its scientific name was not mentioned.  Evergestis means ‘a well wrought garment’; forficalis means a pair of scissors or shears : a name that refers to the way the wings are folded in repose.  Linnaeus described the Pyralidae family as ‘having wings winking into the shape of scissored deltoid’.  Butterflies close their wings as a door closes on its hinges but a pyralid moth brings them together like the sashes of a window (how appropriate for Shandy Hall) or the closing of the eyelid.  This Garden Pebble is then the quintessential member of the pyralid family as its wings do not overlap but meet over the abdomen and conceal it.

Garden Pebble (Evergestis forficalis)

Here (below) is the wee thing in imagined flight.

Garden Pebble (illustration)

There were Sandy Carpets, Silver-ground Carpets, Buff Ermine, White Ermine, a rather handsome Notocelia cynosobatella, Poplar Hawk-moths, a dozen Common Swifts, a couple of Scorched Wings, two Brimstone Moths, Silver Y and Beautiful Golden Y and three Peppered Moths.  Not bad for yet another chilly, rainy night.