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16 July 2012

16 July 2012 – Cautiously Claiming Two New Finds

Udea prunalis: confirmed on 18 July

We may have two new species today but I await confirmation.* I think the first was Udea prunalis who rested as still as a stone while I tried to catch the light onto its muted wing details. Oudasor oudeos means ‘the surface of the earth’ because the larvae feed on low-growing plants. Prunalis comes from Prunus spinosa (blackthorn), one of its foodplants. My guess is that the other is Scrobipalpa acuminatella. Scrobis means ‘ditch’ or ‘trench’ and palpa refers to the palp, because the segment part of the labial palpus creases sharply. Acuminatus means ‘pointed’ because of its pointy forewings.

probably Scrobipalpa acuminatella

This weekend I learned two new things about the garden. I witnessed first hand the behavior of the honeybee. Yesterday, the bees in the back garden began to swarm, only an hour before the start of Carry Akroyd’s exhibit opening in the gallery. I’d never seen anything like it, they made a massive whirring cloud and then after a few minutes they settled into a branch of the bush where they remained for hours. Then in the early evening, they tired of the branch and flew off into the open fields in the distance. It’s a shame we couldn’t catch them somehow, they would have made some delicious Yorkshire honey for me to bring home for souvenirs!

Honeybees in the bush just after the swarm

I was also told about the legend of St. Swithin’s Day. It was a right miracle that with all the rain we’ve been having we had a dry July 15th. Perhaps we will have a summer after all!

 Finally, I thought I’d share another moth-related article from the Guardian. This one, from Friday 13 July suggests keeping caterpillars as pets. I agree that it’s a good way to get children involved in the garden, but I can’t stress enough that they’d better identify the correct foodplants before they remove the larvae from their habitat!

*Udea prunalishas been confirmed. We can’t be certain of the Scrobipalpa acuminatella without dissecting it. Current count: 209

-Post by Helen Levins