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21 June 2016

20 June 2016 – Chance Encounter

(Dicroramphra .agg)

A few nights ago, a stroll in the garden with a cup of hot chocolate in my hands destined my encounter with this moth. I searched myself for a camera but alas! I had made the conscious decision not to bring any technology on the walk (the one time!). I hurried back for my phone, but when I came back – it was gone. The moth’s distinctive creamy mid-body blotch occupied my mind the whole of next day, so much so that, when I was doing the identifications for the following day’s trap, I was also secretly looking for an illustration that matched my chance encounter. I was forced to give up my obsessive search because my mental image of it was not sharp enough. I tried to let it go by telling myself that it was an after hours interlude anyway.

Last night, however, I found it again, at the same spot, at the same time! Fortunately, this time I was able to get a decent picture of it and examine it leisurely – although my two guesses, Epiblema turbidana and Epinotia tenerana were incorrect and I had to consult the expert. Charlie Fletcher told me that it is a Dichrorampha but that anything beyond that would require dissection. With that information I then went on the Yorkshire Moths Flying Tonight website and found that only three in the genus are active around this time of the year. The mid-body mark on the D. petiverella and the D.alpinana both seemed cleaner and more well-defined than that on our specimen, so my best guess is that it is a D. montanana.

Pseudotomia circle a Corn Cockle*

If, like me, you are thinking the name Dichrorampha is a proper tongue twister, at least the name-giver (A.Guenée) himself agreed. – In this name, which I unsuccessfully tried to make less of a mouthful and easier on the ear, I wanted to draw attention to the palpi. Thus, ‘dikhroos’, two-coloured and ‘rhamphē’, a hooked knife, both refer to the moth’s labial palpus.

Any member of the Dichrorampha family is new to Shandy Hall so, regardless of which species it is, it happily adds to our species count which now stands at 376.

*The illustration shows members of the Pseudotomia family, one of which will be our Dichrorampha – but which one?  The common corn cockle (Agrostemma gittago) can be found (introduced) in the wild garden at Shandy Hall.

Post : Tung Chau (UPenn)