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31 July 2014

30 July 2014 – Dark Spinach

Dark Spinach (Pelurga comitata)

Patrick and I had different opinions this morning regarding the identity of a rather bulky moth with fan-shaped wings and uplifted abdomen. Patrick reckoned it was a Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata), just like an earlier visitor to the garden three days ago. I believed (and hoped) that it was a Dark Spinach (Pelurga comitata), which would be completely new to the garden.

Superficially, the two moths look alike. Both hold their wings spread out like a carpet; both display semicircular bands expanding outwards from the thorax to the wingtips. On a closer look, however, the decorations on their wings  display different characteristics.The patterns on the wings of the Shaded Broad-bar are silky soft. The yellow band at the edge of the wing melds into a dark orange stripe; the orange, in turn, dissolves to a sea-green color. The wings of the Shaded Broad-bar form a graceful design, like the smooth curves carved out on a sandy beach.

Instead of the soft sandy shore, the wings of the Dark Spinach resemble the hard shoals on a rugged coast. The dark brown bands on the moth’s wings are sharply divided from the beige background. The lines of division are harsh and uneven. The Dark Spinach’s wing-pattern resembles the geological layers on the body of the rock, preserving the fault-lines as well as the scars of deep erosion. ‘Pelurga‘, in fact, describes to the moth’s earthen, clay-coloured appearance. (‘comitata‘, the second part of the scientific name, means ‘a companion’.)

Following a consultation with Dave Chesmore it was confirmed that the specimen found was indeed the hardy, rocky Dark Spinach. This means Shandy Hall Moths now increases to 350.

—Post by Bowen Chang