Home > Moths > 16 June 2022 – Comfrey Ermel

19 June 2022

16 June 2022 – Comfrey Ermel

Comfrey Ermel (Ethmia quadrillella)

A micro moth which looks like a longhorn cow with its black and white spots and long antennae!  This little beauty is an Ethmia quadrillella, sometimes known as the Comfrey Ermel.  It is found on the eastern side of England and is local in the British Isles.  However, it is present throughout Eurasia, so it could  be a visitor or immigrant from the mainland – maybe it is spending its holiday here?  Its flight time is from May to August.

Its habitats of choice include fenland, wetland, riverbanks and gardens and the favourite foodplants are Common Comfrey (of which there is plenty in the quarry garden at Shandy Hall), Lungwort and Wood Forget-me-nots.

You may be wondering what does the quad in quadrillella mean? Ethmia comes from ethmos, a sieve – perhaps referring to the dots on its wings that look like holes.  A quadrille is ‘a lively square dance for four couples’ referring to a dance popular in early 19th century England.  Perhaps the four small black dots look like a quadrille formation.  There is also the French quadrille (1725) referring to a ‘popular card game for four hands’. Either way there is certainly a significance to the number four.

This bright little moth is new to the gardens at Shandy Hall and brings the total to 451 different species.

Mackenzie McKillip – U Penn intern