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16 November 2012

15 November 2012 – Arriving with the Frost

Blair’s Shoulder-knot (Lithophane leautieri)

Last night’s hunt for a flightless female moth was unsuccessful but viewing tree-trunks by torchlight was a significant compensation as extraordinary habitats were revealed.  Wood lice, slugs, harvestmen, flies, spiders and millipedes were to be seen crawling over the trunks in large numbers on the mild autumn evening.  However, on searching the trap, very little evidence of the moth-world was to be found – except the bonus of two new species to the list.  The moth in the photograph above is Blair’s Shoulder-knot (Lithophane leautieri).  The Latin name lithophane, ‘to appear to be like a stone,’ is fitting; the second part of the name refers to the identifier of the species, M. Leautier, on the Isle of Wight in 1951.

Exapate congelatella

The second new species was extremely difficult to see as it was nearly as black as the plastic upon which it was resting.  No certainty it was a moth either – but when I looked at the Yorkshire Moths site to see which species might be flying tonight, there, at the bottom of the list, was Exapate congelatella – the moth that appears at the first sign of frost (congelatus : frozen); the exapate part means ‘gross deceit’ and is a complicated reference to the tortricid moth looking like a tineid. That’s the gist anyway. The moth was keen to be off and was difficult to photograph – a collecting tube was turned upside down, positioned on a new book by the Incline Press and then carefully unscrewed.  A quick photograph to show its characteristics and then put outside to await release this evening.

It has just started to rain.  Another trap on Saturday if the weather stays mild.  Species list now grown to 257.