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26 October 2018

26 October 2018 – Dr Blair’s Moths

Blair’s Shoulder Knot (Lithophane leautieri)

The Juniperus procumbens, growing near the base of the ancient sweet chestnut tree, is the possible food plant for this Blair’s Shoulder-knot when it was in the larval stage of its development.  The pink flush on the abdomen can be seen quite easily as the moth’s defence response is to play dead when touched, when it can be quite easily rolled over to see the underside of the hindwings.  Lithophanes are becoming popular again – they are made of porcelain with a design etched into the surface which makes the porcelain thinner and enables the image to be seen when a light source (like a candle) is placed behind.  The origin of the word is from the Greek for ‘appearing like a stone’.  

The moth was discovered in south-western France by M Leautier but I can find nothing about him.  However the reference to ‘Blair’ is easier to find out.  There are two other moths similarly named : Blair’s Mocha and Blair’s Wainscot.  Dr. Kenneth Gloyne Blair was the man responisble for recording all three moths in the 1940’s and 50’s on the Isle of Wight. 

Satellite (Eupsilia transversa)

There is the tiny white satellite orbiting the orange planet (or dot) on the wings of the Satellite (Eupsilia transversa).  Click on the photograph and it can be seen more easily.  

This is a genus with only one species (monotypic) and here that one is.  The scientific name refers to the bands across (transversa) the wings; and the first part of the binomial means ‘very bald’ – which seems a little odd.  The larger dots are not always orange and sometimes there are two satellites…

Plutella porrectella

It could have been a Diamond Back but this is the Grey-streaked Diamond-back which is very similar to its much commoner name-sharer.  Plutella was originally connected to the Greek for ‘wealth’, but then it became associated with the Greek for ‘smudged’ as the colours seem to run into each other.  It seems that a third interpretation can be put forward – a reference to Pluto, god of the Nether World.  Porrectella links to the antennae which are ‘outstretched’ (porrectus) when the moth is at rest, as this one is.

Silver Y (Autographa gamma)

I have seen a number of Silver Y moths over the years and they tend to vary in the colours they display to the world, but I have never seen one so bright a purple colour.  The little ‘y’ marks are clearly seen – these a richer, creamier colour rather than the usual silvery white.

Feathered Thorn (Colotois pennaria)

There were four Feathered Thorn moths in the trap and all in perfect condition.  Their similarity to the fallen leaves is so beautiful. The one above is a female as the antennae are not feathered.  The Feathered Thorn can be found in parks and gardens or wherever there are broad-leaved trees.  Further information on this moth can be found here.

November Moth (Epirrita dilutata )

There is no guarantee that the moth in the photograph above is a November Moth.  It might be a Pale November Moth (Epirrita christyi) or it might be an Autumnal Moth (Epirrita autumnata).  The markings on the forewings of these moths are variable – sometimes the forewings of a single moth don’t even match; the bands running across the wings are sometimes clearly defined and on other specimens they are hardly there at all.  Even the shape of the wings vary.  The moth shown above looks like a November Moth but this really means very little; just enjoy looking at its markings – so delicate and complex.