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23 June 2016

22 June 2016 – Not a Threadbare Carpet

Dark Marbled Carpet (Dysstroma citrata )

We are in luck to finally get a photograph of the Dark Marbled Carpet (Dysstroma citrata) here at Shandy Hall.* Having decided that this moth was a worn Broken-barred Carpet, I had to struggle with myself for quite a time when I was informed of its true identity by Dr. Chesmore. Staring into the jagged lines in the subterminal area is like beholding a print of Katsushika Hokusai’s waves, the thrusting vigor of which is then checked by a more somber inky overtone.  

It was great fun trying to decode the moth’s scientific identity as, through the years, it has undergone many changes since Linnaeus coined the name Phalaena citrata, where ‘phalaina’ is a term used by Aristotle for a moth, and ‘citrata’ a reference to the orange colour displayed on its forewings. It then came under the genus Chloroclysta: ‘khlōros’ meaning greenish yellow and ‘kluzo’, to wash off or away, both vividly describe the ground colour and wavy markings of this insect. We believe that one of the three moths illustrated below pertains to our species, as two of them bear the names marmorata and immanata, which are listed as synonyms to D. citrata, though with the different generic name, Polyphasia.

Dark Marbled Carpet – but which one?

The last two traps have held many wonders for me: the mouse-like appearance of the Brown House-moth, the perky resting position of the Barred Straw, the sequin shimmer of the Gold Spot and Burnished Brass, and the most stunning and visceral of them all – the Blood-vein. I cannot help but wonder how such flagrant beauty can survive in nature, though perhaps I should refrain from venturing any more anthropocentric judgments.

(Crambus lathoniellus)

I have also taken a liking to micromoths for their dazzling variety and their fine markings that will put to shame even the most scrupulous ceramic glazing. Four were new to me – Crambus lathoniellus (above), Timothy Tortrix (Aphelia paleana), Plutella porrectella, and Eucosma cana, each with a distinct resting position, palpus, head shape, and patterning, making identification a great joy.

*We had the moth listed as having been identified by Dr Chesmore at Shandy Hall, but  that was before this blog was started and we had no photographic proof. Post : Tung Chau (UPenn)