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24 May 2012

23 May 2012 – Beggar my neighbour

Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica)

Last year, at about this time, a new species of moth was identified – the Muslin moth (Diaphora mendica). For some inexplicable reason it failed to find its place on the list – but fortunately another turned up in the trap last night.  

Powdered Quaker (Orthosia gracilis)

However very little else did. A Powdered Quaker and a couple of White Ermine moths.  The Ermines needed careful checking in case they were female Muslins. Diaphora means ‘distinction’ as the male (the drab beggar), is radically different from the female. The mendica part of its name has two meanings.  One refers to a Carmelite mendicant friar (according to R. D. Mcleod’s Key to the Names of British Butterflies and Moths) and refers to the female.  Clerck (who may not have known the female is white and the male is a rather fetching brownish-grey) in 1759 refers mendicus, a beggar, to the male.  This is all rather confusing and despite this attempt at clarification may still seem rather complicated.  The Muslin moth is related to the Ruby Tiger – last post’s ‘fence-sitter’.  If there is a female Muslin to be found it will be posted forthwith.  Meanwhile, outside in the gathering gloom at 22:09 the sound of a cuckoo mocks this attempt at lepidopteral enlightenment.  

Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica)

There are now 181 species recorded and here, slightly the worse for wear (but still handsomely marked, with golden forelegs and a stripy abdomen) we see the photographic evidence.