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22 July 2015

22 July 2015 – Unwelcome at the Bake Off

Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis)

In today’s catch, we discovered another species new to Shandy Hall. This one is called the Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis). The genus references an unknown species of bird or winged insect which is supposed to live in fire; we cannot take this literally, and it must simply allude to its attraction to light. Additionally, Linnaeus divided any moth other than a hawk-moth into seven families; Pyralis was a name for one such family. Farinalis means that the moth lives on flour. 

The Meal Moth is common and widespread – but is usually found inside stables, grain stores, et cetera; places with easy access to grain and flour. Although it has very specific markings, it was difficult to identify because none of us had ever seen it before and because of those characteristic feeding grounds – the components of which are nowhere to be found at Shandy Hall. At first, Patrick thought it looked similar to a Phoenix – the abdomen is curled up when the moth is at rest – but the markings are completely different.  I discovered it by accident – looking through pictures, searching for the identifying characteristics of various other moths, and there it was, resting with its abdomen turned up. The shape of its wings and abdomen distinctly remind me of the very common Barred Straw. It has distinctive, clearly delineated bars of color on its wings; these are purplish and brown, separated by white lines.  And it is a Micro-moth so we were all looking in the wrong Field Guide…Welcome species 367.

Post : Ariel A Smith (UPenn)

Meal Moth (illustration)