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24 July 2012

24 July 2012 – The Leopard of North Yorkshire

Leopard Moth (Zeuzera pyrina)

After clearing out all the Caddis flies and midges, we made some great discoveries: five new species! Current Count: 218.

The Leopard Moth (Zeuzera pyrina) was resting on the sheet nearby the trap. This is typical of its behavior as it’s a nocturnal moth but can often be found out in the open during the daytime. It doesn’t seem very safe for such a conspicuously colored moth. Zuezera is a misspelling for ‘zanzara(Italian for gnat) in respect of its larva’s bite. The larvae mine into the wood of living trees, an impressive feat for such small mouths. Pyrina(pear) is one of the types of trees that the larvae eat.

White Satin Moth (Leucoma salicis)

The White Satin Moth (Leucoma salicis) was strikingly white and had a furry head. With its clean and soft appearance, it could be the poster child for luxurious living… if only such establishments were more welcoming of insects. Leucoma means ‘white hair’ and salicis comes from Salix, the larvae’s foodplant.

Agapeta zoegana

We were thankful to find the Agapeta zoegana because we prematurely released one earlier in the week, thinking it was just the Agapeta hamana with a more saturated yellow coloring. Agapeta (beloved or desirable) comes from its attractive appearance. Zoegana is derived from J. Zoega, a Swiss entomologist who trapped the moth while he was staying at Carl Linnaeus’ residence. Linnaeus, as you may know, was an eighteenth century scientist responsible for the binomial nomenclature system. Some people have all the connections!

Aspilapteryx tringipennella*

Next we found the Aspilapteryx tringipennella. Patrick pointed this micro-moth out to me, because I’d overlooked it. Aspilapteryx means ‘spotted wing’ and tringipennella means ‘Tringa wing’ for the wing of the sandpiper bird’s genus which it was thought to resemble.

Red-barred Tortrix (Ditula angustiorana)

Finally, we come to the Red-barred Tortrix (Ditula angustiorana). It only stayed for a moment, so the photograph is not the best quality. Ditulos means ‘with two humps’ because of the two sections made by the crest marking on its thorax. Angustior means ‘more narrow’ because it is narrow in comparison to similar species.

There were a few other beautiful moths this morning. They were not new, but I couldn’t resist posting their photographs. The Mother of Pearl looked like a macro-moth but it is actually classified as a micro. The Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing has a green head, yellow underwings, and a pinkish underside. Its incredibly colorful for a moth that just looks dark black at first glance.

Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis) 
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe)

-Post by Helen Levins

*may be Metzneria metzneriella – Jane Wu