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16 June 2014

16 June 2014 – Blowing in the Wind

Apple Fruit Moth (Argyresthia conjugella)

Yesterday the trap was filled with some giants of the moth world – we recorded three different species of hawk-moth in the one catch – Small Elephant, Eyed and Poplar.  They were, however, not new to the garden.  Ironically, the subject of my first blog post at Shandy Hall will be the smallest member of yesterday’s cohort: Argyresthia conjugella, as confirmed by Charlie Fletcher.  Commonly called the Apple Fruit Moth it raises the count of Shandy Hall moths to 338.

The first part of the scientific name Argyresthia originates from the word ‘arguros’ meaning ‘silver’.  This refers to the silvery patch at the top of the moth’s wings.  Conjugella (meaning ‘connection’) attributes to the dark stripe that divides the silvery patch when the wings are folded together.

I was amazed at the peculiar stance that the Apple Fruit Moth takes when at rest.  The weight of his already minuscule body is precariously balanced upon three pairs of disproportionately thin legs.  The moth’s body leans heavily forward, its wings folded tightly around its abdomen and tilted upward as if in the absence of gravity.

The moth is so thin and light, and its stance so precarious, I fear it would be carried away with the slightest gust of wind.  How then does it thrive in the windy climes of North Yorkshire?  As it turns out, my fear is excessive.  This species of moth not only thrives in England, but is also found in Siberia, Japan, North America and much of the northern hemisphere.  Instead of battling the wind, I suppose it must simply adhere to the wind’s direction to all far corners of the world.

Post by Bowen Chang