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18 August 2019

18 August 2019 – Goths and Magical Numbers

Feathered Gothic (Tholera decimalis)

Click on the photograph of the Feathered Gothic (Tholera decimalis) and the enlarged image will show the feathery antennae which confirm that this is a male of the species.  Not an uncommon visitor to this part of Yorkshire this muddy-coloured (from the Greek tholeros) insect comes to light as an adult and is mainly found on moorland.  The ‘decimalis’ part of the scientific name refers to ‘the tenth’ – but which tenth is being referred to is a mystery. 

Sallow (Xanthia icteritia)

More than a hint of Autumn is carried on the wings of the Sallow (Xanthia icteritia) and this is the first of its kind this year.  The moth is coloured so beautifully to disappear among the leaves – camouflaged and safe.  The scientific name opens up a digression which is revealed here

Gold Spot (Plusia festucae)

There is the Gold Spot (Plusia festucae) and there is the Lempke’s Gold Spot (Plusia putnami) and they are very similar. Reading the differences and variations that are visible on the moth’s wings might seem to guarantee an identification – but then we learn that each variety will sometimes carry marks found on the other.  I am pretty sure this is not Lempke’s as the markings that look like a little keyboard have only one white key and not four. B J Lempke (1901-1993) was a Dutch lepidopterist whose name is now linked with this sub-species.

Magpie (Abraxas grossulariata)

The final species from last night’s trap – which had not a single micro moth to be found – is the Magpie.  I always associate this moth with one that I saw as child.  It was inside a greenhouse, in the garden of a dahlia grower in Bilborough, Notts.  It was so bright and extraordinary I found it difficult to believe it was a moth.  The scientific name is examined here.