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20 July 2017

20 July 2017 – Fungus Feeder

(Crassa unitella)

The moths trapped on Monday night were less active than on the previous occasion, but the diversity stayed the same. I was also greeted by a few wasps in the trap. Whether there is a wasp nest nearby or they just decided to take a late-night stroll, I’m not sure. Frankly, I was less worried about where they came from and instead, focused on getting them out of the trap before I got stung. Most of them flew out when I opened the lid while one needed some persuasion with the trusty paint-brush. With the danger removed, I could start identifying moths.

The Golden-brown Tubic (Crassa unitella) was found on the side of an eggbox. At first, I was unsure if it was even a moth because it resembled the shape and coloration of a caddis fly. I decided to put it in an inspection tube after seeing the elongated palps, which are the upwards curling parts near the moth’s mouth. It’s bright yellow head is very noticeable compared to its dark wings. The moth is reported as being scare in Yorkshire but it is common in southern England. 

Crassa unitella is also known as Batia unitella in some books. Batia is ‘a thorn-bush’, while unitella means ‘unity’, which describes the singular color on the wings.

The larvae of Crassa unitella feed on fungus found on or under dead tree bark.

(Blastobasis lacticolella)

The London Dowd (Blastobasis lacticolella) also made an appearance in the trap. Its markings vary, some being heavily marked and others with no markings at all. A common species, it is not actually native to Britain and was introduced around 1946. The London Dowd is native to the Portuguese archipelago, Madeira. Being a year-round resort, there’s quite a contrast when comparing the two environments – the moth has adapted well to the drastic change.

The larva of Blastobasis lacticolella feeds on leaf-litter, vegetation, and it has also been reported eating dead insects.

A new species to Shandy Hall, Blastobasis lacticolella bumps the number of different species up to 418!

Post : Walter Chen [UPenn intern]