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2 June 2020

2 June 2020 – Tales from the Cryptic

Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala)

Like a small number of species of moths, the Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) is one that seems to be attracted to light but doesn’t quite make it into the trap itself; all the more reason for putting a white sheet beneath the lamp to make sure any strays don’t disappear into the grasses.  This must be one of the most cryptic of insects and is the perfect example of blending in.  It has been photographed on the trunk of a silver birch (Betula pendula) to display how the wing patterns are similar to the colours of the bark.  The Buff-tip (adult) is active until the end of July during which time eggs are laid, in large numbers, and the larvae feed, in groups, on the leaves of birches, sallows, rowan, hornbeam and sycamore.

The scientific name connects the white patch (phalera) with the name of Alexander the Great’s mighty steed – Bucephalus (‘bull-headed’) a horse that was impossible to ride until it was realised by Alexander that the animal was frightened by his own shadow.    

Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea)

Just the two moths for this post. I would have liked to photograph the Small Rivulet that was the most noticeable moth I caught sight of this morning but an accidental elbow nudge knocked the trap, which startled the Green Carpet, which flew into the Silver Y which dislodged the Small Rivulet and it was gone.  

The Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea) is not a bad substitute as it is in fresh condition with its characteristic markings all clearly visible – the orangey spots, the bright,white line forming a W and a general brown colouring. Its scientific name reveals that it is a lover of vegetables to the point where some gardeners might call it a pest, but not in the gardens here.