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8 July 2016

7 July 2016 – Painter’s Palette

Barred Yellow (Cidaria fulvata)

Today’s trap looked like a painter’s palette. A stunning 38 species responded to the call of warm weather and perched, seemingly content, on the egg boxes in the trap. Once again, Ermines, Minors, Golden and Silver Y’s, Heart and Dart, and Silver-ground Carpet proved themselves to be regular visitors. Catching up in numbers are Barred Straw, Snout, Large Yellow-underwing, and Small Dotted Buff. Species that occurred only sporadically in the past month all decided to check back in today – Lychnis, Riband Wave, Common Footman, Rivulet, plus a good variety of micros: Epiblema trimaculana, Eucosma cana, Udea Olivalis, Celypha laculana, Garden Pebble, Garden Grass Veneer, and Plum Tortrix. 

In the spirit of our upcoming exhibition in which artists are asked to represent their version of ideal beauty, this blog will focus on the painterly moths. Named after the agricultural goddess Ceres, the flashy Barred Yellow (Cidaria fulvata) resembles a cartoony foxtail with its rich orange hue and brushy white apex. Unmistakable as a masterpiece, this moth is a delight to identify. It passes the winter as an egg on the foodplant (a wide range of roses) and hatches May-June into a jade-colored caterpillar.

Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata)

On second thought, who needs color to impress? This is the statement made by the Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata), which resembles an atonal black and white Robert Motherwell painting. The “clouds” refer to the thick, meandering dark border which comes in, as its scientific name suggests, hems (loma) and spots (spilos). Jane Wu (earlier UPenn intern) compared the pattern to a Rorschach inkblot test, which I thought was brilliant because in this test, as in cloud-watching, we see what our mind wants us to see.

Post: Tung Chau (UPenn)