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27 June 2016

26 June 2016 – New ‘Bird Dropping’ Moth

Epiblema trimaculana

Though to me the scenery may not change much from day to day, the moth world is seeing a total revamp. The first of the summer for the Barred-fruit Tree Moth, Common Footman, Common Wave, Coxcomb Prominent, Large Yellow-underwing, Phlyctaenia perlucidalis, Straw Dot, and Uncertain have all made an appearance, while some previously abundant species – Small Square-spot, Diamond Back – have diminished in number. A total of 38 species were recorded, including one new: Epiblema trimaculana, identification confirmed by Charlie Fletcher.

E. trimaculana (from above)

This is the second Epiblema species I have seen, the other one being E. cynosbatella. Comepared to the latter, E. trimaculana has a narrower forewing, lacks the yellow palps, and, as suggested by its name, shows three (tri-) spots (macula) in the ocellar region of the forewing. Below is our moth illustrated under the name Spilonota trimaculana, showing the slipperiness of the naming system and the degree of similarities between the so-called ‘bird dropping’ moths. From now on, I shall get a nervous twitch in the stomach whenever I see a member of this family – not from the appetizing nickname but the difficulty of identification. It brings our species count to 377.

E. trimaculana (illustration)

The Common Footman (Eilema lurideola) is a rather Lego-looking piece of a gem. Wearing a conspicuous grey and yellow, this moth has a fashion sense that informs both its common and scientific name. I learn that it got the former from the long livery of the footman, which is echoed in the involuted forewings at rest. The same is implied by its scientific name, where ‘eilēma’ means ‘a veil’ and luridus pale yellow (from the costal streaks).

Common Footman (Eilema lurideola)

Post : Tung Chau (UPenn)