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27 May 2020

26 May 2020 – New Species in the Garden

(Isotrias rectifasciana)

This moth perplexed me.  I didn’t think I had seen it before but no matter how carefully I compared my photograph with the drawings in the Field Guide (illustrations by Richard Lewington) and the photographs in Manley’s British Moths I couldn’t be sure of its identity.  It was small with brown, speckled markings on a creamy ground with three bands across the wings. After an hour trying to weigh up which it was, I gave up and sent the photograph to Yorkshire expert, Charlie Fletcher, who informed me it was Isotrias rectifasciana.  The Norfolk Moths website gives it the title of ‘Hedge Tortrix’ and records that it is scarce.  This is the first time this little moth has been recorded at Shandy Hall and brings the number of different species to 439.

The scientific name is descriptive isos meaning ‘equal’; trias meaning ‘group of three’ – referring to the bands on the forewings; rectifasciana or ‘the straight band’ across the centre where other members of the Tortricids have an oblique  mark.  The food plant is not known but it is probable that hawthorn might satisfy the caterpillar. 

Broom Moth (Melanchra pisi)

This moth caused a lot of head scratching as well.  At first it was hoped that a Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis) had been drawn to the light of the trap – a moth that should be in this locality but has not yet been seen.  It wasn’t a Knot Grass but a Broom Moth (Melanchra pisi), a moth that has only been seen once before in 2013.  I am glad to know it is still around.  The description of its habitat and food source can be seen here, on the blog that was posted by our intern, Jane Wu, on that occasion. 

Scorched Wing (Plagodis dolabraia)

The following three strikingly marked moths were photographed with relative ease.  The Scorched Wing (Plagodis dolobraia) is always a delight but will take to the wing at the slightest provocation. I waited for it to crawl up the wooden strut of the collecting cage until it felt contented to settle.  A few purposeful but gentle wing beats indicating that it was now going to remain in the chosen spot.   

Small Magpie (Anania hortulata)

Like the first moth in this little group, the Small Magpie (Anania hortulata) is a micro moth even though it looks more the size and shape of a macro.  Since it was last recorded on the blog it seems to have changed the first half of its scientific name from Eurrhypara (meaning ‘greasy’ and referring to the glossy sheen of the wings) to Anania (meaning ‘without pain’ or ironically ‘with pleasure’). 


Small Angle Shades (Euplexia lucipara)

The third moth is the Small Angle Shades (Euplexia lucipara) a very compact and attractive moth with clear and uncomplicated markings.  The scientific name refers to the position of the wings when the moth is completely at rest. ‘well woven’ or ‘plaited’ (eu plexis) they form a small ridge to make the insect resemble a leaf; lucipara refers to the ‘bringing forth of light’ in the form of the yellowish marking.  The moth has two generations and the caterpillar will feed on ferns, bracken, nettles, currants, birches, sallows – all found in parks and gardens throughout the country.

Other species in last night’s trap were : Gold Spot, Poplar Hawkmoth, Green Carpet, Silver Ground Carpet, Spectacle, Heart and Dart, Straw Dot, Pale Tussock, White Ermine, Buff Ermine, a couple of pugs and more cockchafers than I have ever seen before.