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18 August 2018

18 August 2018 – Back to the Trap

Centre-barred Sallow (Atethmia centrago)

I am not certain how the weather has affected moth-trapping nationally this year.  Numbers are certainly down in the gardens at Shandy Hall – particularly those members of the variety known as ‘underwing’.  Perhaps it is too early to say. August is supposed to be the  warmest month in the UK so perhaps there might be an increase in their numbers.  

We have trapped and recorded a number of the Sallow family over the years and the arrival of these tawny-winged insects seems to be the herald of a change in the seasons.  The Centre-barred Sallow in the photograph is as fresh as a daisy and one of the easiest to identify.  After over-wintering as an egg (laid on a twig or a crevice in the bark of an ash tree) the caterpillar lives inside a bud.  As it develops it spends the day hiding at the base of the tree, emerging at dusk and climbing at speed to feed on the leaves higher up the trunk.  The larva spins a cocoon beneath the ground and the pupa hatches after a few weeks.  How any of them survive is beyond me.

Feathered Gothic (Tholera decimalis)

A pair of Feathered Gothics – one male and one female. My ideal photograph would show the feathery antennae of the male and the simple, single strand of the female but when I tried to  position them accordingly they became animated and started rapid little runs in unpredictable directions.  The female is the upper one in the image – the slight curve to the forewing helps in identification.  This moth survives the winter as an egg after the female has broadcast eggs from the air onto the grassland beneath – rather like the swift moth family.  The larva grows and feeds on Sheep’s fescue grass and the adult emerges in late July, which is why this pair look so freshly made.

                                                 Flounced Rustic (Luperina testacea)                                                        

The third species is just a particularly good example of a Flounced Rustic (Luperina testacea) which is found throughout the county and is common nationally.

Gabriella has now returned to the University of Pennsylvania.  She was a bonus to the moth world at Shandy Hall and we send her thanks for her diligence, care and dependability.