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2 July 2012

2 July 2012 – Manic Monday

Large Yellow Underwing, Noctua pronuba

No new species today, but we did get a couple of exciting moths to look at. The most eye-catching was the Barred Straw who we’ve had in the past but not since I’ve arrived. The Chrysoteuchia culmella was also surprisingly perky for its morning photo shoot. See the photographs below.

Barred Straw, Eulithis pyraliata
Chrysoteuchia culmella

The Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) looked relatively ordinary, until it began to flutter around and reveal its distinctive orangy-yellow hidden parts. Noctua, could mean either ‘night by night’ or refer to the short-eared owl. It is probably meant to reference the time of night when it flies, even though the short-eared owl can be seen flying in the day. Pronuba, a bridesmaid, is even more abstract… it seems that Carl Linnaeus named most moths with colorful hindwings after women, especially in the context of marriage. This moth put up quite a fit when we tried to photograph him, banging against all sides of the container. (See photograph at top.) I guess they didn’t have the term “Bridezilla” back then.

Light Arches, Apamea lithoxylaea

Next came the lackadaisical moths, thank heavens! We had the Light Arches (Apamea lithoxylaea). Apamea, as we’ve come across before is the name of a town in Asia minor where a father of the church resided. Lithoxylaeais a bit more descriptive. Lithos (a stone) and xulon (wood) described the wood-like markings on the moth’s stone-colored wings.

The Clay, Mythimna ferrago

Finally, The Clay (Mythimna ferrago), a large pinkish moth, nestled itself deeply into an egg carton. Again, its first name seems a bit arbitrary. Mythimna is for Mithimna, a town in either the island of Lesbos or Mytelene. Ferrago means ‘a dirty red’ or ‘the color of red dust,’ which as you can see, describes its forewings.

Before ending, I’d like to bring your attention to Eva Wiseman’s article titled “Why I Hate Moths” in yesterday’s Observer. It’s an eight paragraph account of her moth-invaded wardrobe, ending in a plea for the extinction of moths. I’d simply like to provide you with some additional food for thought: according to Butterfly Conservation, a registered English charity, only about 6 moth species of around 2,500 actually damage clothing.

-Post by Helen Levins