Home > Moths > 16 June 2020 – Platonic Harmony

18 June 2020

16 June 2020 – Platonic Harmony

Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis cerasana)

Some mornings everything falls into place – other mornings are more complicated.  Just as I was beginning to inspect the trap to see what was to be found, a Small Elephant Hawkmoth decided to launch itself into activity.  The wing-beats of this moth are frenetic and relentless and it will brook no obstacle.  Banging and bursting in the confined space of the trap, the Elephant Hawk set off a Poplar Hawk and the pair of them were like the balls in a pin-ball machine.  Removing the light to make an opportunity for the two mad insects to achieve the liberty they were seeking, meant that at the same time, a considerable number of moths escaped at the same time and headed for the shrubbery.  There was one I certainly didn’t recognise but it was gone before it could be captured – another (Clouded Silver) I would have liked to have photographed but off it went. Some of the moths that were under the egg-cartons were relatively unmoved but, after this upset, I found it difficult to proceed logically. 

The Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis cerasana) stuck to its resting place.  Its markings are quite clear.  The binomial has a couple of references : Pandemis ‘of the people’ is also an epithet of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Plato put forward the argument that there were two manifestations of Aphrodite : Urania (the goddess of heavenly love or ‘Platonic love’) and Aphrodite Pandemos, the goddess of the baser, carnal love. The diagonal band across the wings of the moth may have echoed the heraldic sign of illegitimacy on the heraldic shield.  This may have all been a fantasy on the part of the distinguished German entomologist H.G. Hubner (1761 – 1826) and is quite a lot for a little brown moth to carry.

Blood-vein (Timandra comae)

The Blood-vein (Timandra ceresan) is always a crowd pleaser – or it would be if there were a crowd to see it at 6.am.  There is a smaller version but it doesn’t have the pink colouring that is a trade-mark for this species.

Mottled Beauty (Alcis repandata)

There are a number of moths that look similar to the Mottled Beauty (Alcis repandata) but with the help of the Field Guide and UK Moths website the markings can identify the species reasonably accurately. It is when the moths markings begin to wear that things become more difficult. Jane Wu, our intern in 2013 wrote this post about the Mottled Beauty.

Light Emerald (Campaea margaritata)

 The Light Emerald (Campaea margaritata) is one of those moths that could be taken for a butterfly. In repose the rinsed green colour of the wings is displayed to its full advantage.  It is a common moth and easily recognised even when the green fades to white.  The larva will munch through Hawthorn, Silver Birch, Hazel, Blackthorn and other broadleaved plants and shrubs

Small Clouded Brindle (Apamea unanimis)

And here, at the bottom of the post, is the latest identified moth.  My reasoning tended towards a slightly worn Lychnis (Hadena bicruris) but I was off the mark.  Charlie Fletcher gave me the Small Clouded Brindle (Apamea unanimis) as the correct species.  He says this moth is often mistaken for a Common Rustic agg. and from the Guide I can see why.  Apamea unanimis reveals that the moth is identified by a town in Asia Minor (Apamea) which has no entomological connection and the Latin for ‘harmony’ (unanimis) or ‘harmonius with’ another species. Well, it is a little complicated, but it is also a new species (number 440) for the gardens at Shandy Hall, so all is well.