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17 June 2018

16 June 2018 – Moth from Dr Seuss

Pale-shouldered Brocade (Lacanobia thalassina)

The warm weather we experienced earlier this week brought new and old moths in similar measure –well new to me, that is. While I don’t think that we’ve identified all the moths that have ever graced the Sandy Hall gardens, I don’t anticipate discovering any new ones this summer. What, with 427 species already accounted for and climate change affecting the world in subtle but disastrous ways, the chances of a new moth turning up are slim. However, even if the species itself isn’t new, the individual moths are and each one offers up a new story to tell about the Shandy Hall ecosystem…

This Pale-shouldered Brocade (Lacanobia thalassina) is a subtle stunner, with its dark colors and delicate markings. It’s name means sea-colored (thalassina) vegetable-eater (Lacanobia), which might seem strange considering that its brown in color, not blue or green. The “sea color” here refers to its reddish brown hue, an allusion to Homer and his description of the sea being “wine-dark.”

Green Silver-lines (Pseudoips prasinana)

This is the Green Silver-lines (Pseudoips prasinana), one of two verdant visitors to the garden the other night. There are very few species of green British moths, so I feel very fortunate to have two in one catch! The Green Silver-lines and the Green Oak Tortrix (Tortrix viridana) are from two separate families of moth: the Noctuidae and the Tortricidae, respectively. The Noctuidaes, or Owlet moths, are the second largest family and are typically medium sized night-flyers. Their larvae are known as ‘cut worms’ and can do considerable damage to roots and plants. Tortricidea, or Tortrix moths, on the other hand, are generally quite small yet their larvae can completely defoliate trees.

Green Silver-lines (illustration)
Green Oak Tortrix (Tortrix viridana)

Although the Green Oak Tortrix is not a new species it has only been recorded once before at Shandy Hall – and that example was very worn.  This specimen is as bright and as green a moth as you could wish.

Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor)

Finally, there is the Elephant Hawk Moth (Deilephila elpenor), who is no stranger to the gardens and blog, but so gorgeous I can’t resist including a picture. This whimsical moth looks like it flew right out of a Dr. Seuss tale!

Post by: Gabriella Morace [UPenn intern]