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17 July 2016

17 July 2016 – Wings and Shears

Donacaula forficella

A busy trap on 11 July yielded a total of 58 species. At least two new species were recorded, including one that had only been recorded twice in our part of North Yorkshire (VC62) previously. A couple are still awaiting confirmation so stay tuned for more possible new ones! 

Pictured above is the uncommon Donacaula forficella. The first record of this moth in our area was made in 2008. After putting in an appearance in 2010, it seemed to have deserted the area altogether – until today. Its hallmarks are the long palpa, the apical streak, and the black dot at two-thirds. Its name comes from ‘donax’, Greek for reeds, and ‘aulē’, a courtyard or dwelling place, both denoting the habitat of its founding species – reed is also the larval foodplant but that was not known until later. Forfex means a pair of shears, which I thought was a description of the oblique streaks but is actually referring to the resting position where the wings overlap slightly, resembling the blades of a pair of scissors. Tellingly, the name forficella was conceived in 1794, long before the creation of the genus in 1890. This means our moth once belonged to another genus. The illustration below shows it under the genus Chilo, which at that time possessed five species but had since dwindled down to one.

Donacaula forficella

Also new to us is the Freyer’s Pug (Eupithecia intricate arceuthata). Getting this identification right was complicated. Apart from the raised, dotted, and slightly brownish abdomen and the white and wavy subterminal line, there didn’t seem much to go on. But, here it is, its wing-flat resting state echoing the gliders that pass over here sometimes. As mentioned before, this elegant repose is characteristic of the genus and is graced with the name eupithecia, literally, a ‘goodly dwarf’. Intricata or Intricatus denotes the unusually high number of bands on its forewing, although to me all members of the pug family seem mind-bendingly intricate. It is one of three subspecies of E. intricata, along with the Edinburgh Pug and the Mere’s Pug. It is a bit strange to find one now because the flight period is listed as May-June.

Freyer’s Pug (Eupithecia intricate arceuthata)

Both moths have been confirmed by Dave Chesmore and can be happily added to our list which now has 381 species.

Post : Tung Chau (UPenn)