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20 June 2013

20 June 2013 – A bird dropping, or not?

Epiblema cynosbatella 

is a member of a group of micro-moths described as ‘bird droppings.’ This is for their muddled white, blue, tan, brown, and black colors. These micro-moths are generally difficult to tell apart. We were bombarded by a mass of them yesterday – the others will appear in future postings. The trap was a flurry of Brimstone Moths, Green Carpets, Silver-ground Carpets, and bird-dropping micros for a good hour or two while I tried to sort through the ones I knew in order to release them and let them hide away in the garden. A huddle of Beautiful Golden Ys were hiding closer to the bottom of the trap. They were probably trying their best to sleep, though a few became irritated with all the racket and started buzzing about as well, which didn’t really help the situation.

Epiblema cynosbatella

Epiblema cynosbatella

 is the most recognizable of the bird-droppings, as it has very distinctive yellow labial palps, which other bird dropping micro-moths do not have. Epiblema in Greek means ‘a covering,’ such as a cloak over the shoulders or a tapestry on a wall. Kunosbatos ‘the dog-rose’ is the larval foodplant of the micro-moth. The –ella on the end of the name relates Epiblema cynosbatella to the tineids, small yellowish moths who’s larvae eat wool or fur, because of how its wings are folded at rest. Epiblema cynosbatella does not, however, consume wool or fur. Your wardrobe is safe! We sighted this species in May 2011, but for some slip in the records, it was never officially recorded.* Counting this, our species list is now at 264.**

*Upon cross-referencing I found that Helen Levins referred to this moth as Notocelia cynosbatella. This is the old name for the moth and after reclassification its new name is Epiblema cynosbatella. The moth count has been adjusted to reflect this discovery.**The moth count remains at 263. Sorry for the confusion!

– Post by Jane Wu