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18 July 2013

18 July 2013 – They Come in Numbers.

Record Moth Count for 17 July, 2013

The moths seem to have missed me while I’ve been gone. Yesterday, we were invaded by an astounding record number of 524 moths in our trap! It’s the most we’ve ever gotten in one night – and to record them all properly it took me over four hours to empty the trap. The photograph is of the tally marks for the moths of that day. Our most popular visitors were the The Fan-foot (20), Beautiful Golden Y (22), The Snout (24), Small Dotted Buff (29), Barred Straw (31), Udea olivalis (34), and the Diamond-back Moth (64). Those were also the moths that were the most active in the trap and caused me a good deal of anxiety trying to count as many as I could before letting them go. Of course, there were probably a few moths that I missed as the moths were disturbing each other, but these seem like high numbers. Perhaps it is all due to the extremely warm weather of the past few days. I’m sure the bats and birds have been enjoying themselves as well.

I have only two more weeks left here at Shandy Hall and many moths yet to blog about so I’ve decided to quit the “one moth a day” plan and go ahead and get back to posting larger groups of our discoveries. 

Clouded Magpie (Abraxas sylvata)

An old friend of Patrick visited us at Shandy Hall last week and left us a wonderful present – two old moth volumes with absolutely stellar hand-coloured lithograph prints. Among the moths in yesterday’s trap was a Clouded Magpie (Abraxas sylvata), a new moth to Shandy Hall – number 281. I’ve included a photo of the real and the lithograph version of the Clouded Magpie for comparison.

Clouded Magpie (Abraxas sylvata)

The genus name Abraxas has no entomological connection to the Clouded Magpie, though interestingly enough if you add the numerical values of the Greek letters in the word together, you get the number of days in a year – 365. Silva or Sylva ‘a wood’ comes from the Clouded Magpie’s forest habitat.

Blue-bordered Carpet (Plemyria rubiginata)

Another new moth we trapped yesterday was the Blue-bordered Carpet (Plemyria rubiginata) – number 282. We identified it earlier in the day, but were unable to nab a picture of it. Instead, we’re using the lithograph to represent it, found on the same page as the Clouded Magpie. In the resting position it keeps its forewings laid back in a triangular shape like most carpets. Plemmuris or plemuris is ‘the flood tide.’ The rusty red scales on the forewings give the Blue-bordered Carpet its species name rubiginata from robigino or rubigino ‘to rust.’

– Post by Jane Wu