Home > Moths > 29 June 2016 – Overlooked Little Moth

30 June 2016

29 June 2016 – Overlooked Little Moth

Small Dotted Buff (Photedes minima)

Strangely enough, the Small Dotted Buff (Photedes minima) has been recorded here before but no-one has photographed or recorded it properly on the blog. A delicate, creamy creature, it has a distinctive arrangement of black dots along the central cross-lines: a straight inner row and an outer row that curls into a question mark. It is common and widespread, which is probably why Jane Wu (U Penn intern) caught 29 of them in one night in 2013.

Like an overly enthusiastic child, it fluttered all around the garden and had us adults chasing after it. So what better name for it than Photedes, ‘phōs’ meaning light and ‘ēdos’, delight, echoing its cheerful play in the day? It is even childlike in size, which is hinted by the second part of its name minimus meaning ‘smallest’. Here this species is being compared to other members of the genus Noctua, among whom ours is indeed a midget. In the early 19th century, it was claimed to be an uncommon moth and was once grouped to the genus Acosmetia, which has now shrunk to just one species. The illustration below shows our moth in flight.

Small Dotted Buff (illustration)

Aside from that, today’s trap largely replicated the one from yesterday, showing a decline in the number of Silver-ground Carpet and Poplar Hawk-moths while keeping up a steady supply of Burnished Brass, Large Yellow Underwing, Marbled Minor, and Middle-barred Minor. We had hoped for more micros to show but the cold last night must have dampened their spirit.

Moth identification and release at Shandy Hall on Friday 1 July.  Gardens open for National Garden Scheme from 5.30.