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24 June 2014

22 June 2014 – Thistle Ermine

Thistle Ermine (Myelois circumvoluta)

We all learned what a vampire looks like from reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula – a pale face, gaunt and always dressed in tightly-fitting monochromatic garments.  A similar description could be used for our new moth today.  The Thistle Ermine (Myelosis circumvoluta) has pale white wings sprinkled with black spots.  Unlike its bigger ‘brothers’ – the White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda) and the Buff Ermine (Spilosoma luteum), its wings are tightly wrapped around its body, like a vampire’s lanky cloak.  The moth’s scientific name furthers this fanciful connection as Myelosis means ‘marrow’; here it refers to the pith of plants. Feeding on the pith of thistles is not so very different from the vampire’s feeding on the ‘lifeblood’ of man.

We thought this moth was new to the gardens but last night found the name lurking in a list from a couple of years ago.  However, it hasn’t had its own photograph on the blog until now.  

Thistle Ermine (Oncocera cardui)

The observant moth enthusiast may notice that the scientific name of the Thistle Ermine in the 1843 illustration is different from the one it bears today.

Post by Bowen Chang