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20 May 2014

17 May 2014 – On the Road

Moth-trapping in the York Museum Trust gardens, York

Trapping in the gardens of the York Museums Trust should be an interesting addition to this year’s activities. Running traps both there and at Shandy Hall will allow comparisons to be made between numbers and varieties of species caught.  Another garden, close-by in Marygate, will, on occasions, be a third reference point.  The weather has not been particularly kind so far this month (we have recorded no moths at all on occasions and it was still a little chilly on Saturday) but differences there are.  In the YMT gardens the species and numbers were low: Common Swift (3), Light Brown Apple Moth and Brown House-moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) – not the best selection to promote the wonders of lepidoptera.  In the Marygate garden the species count was better : Grey Dagger, Shuttle-shaped Dart (2), Clouded Bordered Brindle (2), Bee Moth and either a Treble-bar or a Lesser Treble-bar (3).

Shandy Hall had fifteen species including Herald, Muslin, Buff and White Ermine, Poplar Hawk-moth, Clouded Silver, Silver-ground Carpet, Pebble Prominent, Streamer, Sandy Carpet and Diamond-backed Moth.  

I have included images of the Light Brown Apple Moth and the (Lesser) Treble-bar as neither has been recorded at Shandy Hall and they don’t make it onto our list until they turn up here.  Epiphyas (‘upon the shoot’ : food plant for the larvae); postvittana (‘behind the band’ : referring to the pattern on the forewing) is photographed on the bark of an apple tree.  Apparently not as troublesome a pest as it was first thought to be on its arrival from Australia in the 1930’s.   

Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 

The handsome moth (below) is either a Treble-bar or a Lesser Treble-bar.  There is a clue to which species at the tip of the abdomen but unfortunately this distinguishing detail was unknown to me before the moths were released. The Latin confirms this difference in efformata – ‘differently formed’ with ‘simple horn’ (antenna).  The moth feeds on St John’s Wort.

(Lesser) Treble-bar (Aplocera efformata)

PS. Searching for an illustration of the above I can find no reference to ‘Lesser Treble-bar’ in British Moths and their Transformations (Westwood, illus Humphreys 1844) only the Manchester Treble Bar and the Slender Treble Bar are listed and illustrated (see below). The plant is a Galium sp. it could be woodruff, it could be goose-grass. The Slender has the Latin nomenclature – Anaitis plagiata. In Familiar Butterflies and Moths (Kirby 1901) this same Latin binomial is given to the ‘Treble Bar’ and an illustration is provided (see further below). No wonder I can’t work out whether the moths found in Marygate are Lesser or Slender, with hyphen or without.

Slender Treble-bar (1844)
‘Treble Bar’ (1901)