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7 May 2017

7 May 2017 – Remembrance of Moths Past

Least Black Arches (Nola confusalis)

Another cold night and only three species to be found in the trap at dawn this morning. None are new, so the species list hasn’t increased, but trying to remember their names is a challenge every year.  How to be sure to remember. I knew I had seen this moth before but had to cross-check.  Least Black Arches has been recorded in April 2013 and 2014 where information about its scientific name can be found but this photograph shows the patterns and colouring much more clearly.

The larval food plant is the lime and the evergreen oak.

Lime leaves (Tilia cordata)

This is the small-leaved lime that is growing over the road from Shandy Hall.  The tree is hermaphrodite and typically has lots of suckers at the base of the trunk.  A number of moth species use the lime as a food source, including the Lime Hawk-moth – a spectacular moth only seen once in the garden.  Later in summer the tree will be alive with bees taking the nectar from the clusters of green and yellow flower-heads.  The blossoms can be infused into tea and if a little madeleine cake should be dipped in and tasted, all sorts of things can spark off.

Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)

Sustained by sallow blossom, the Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) is the second of the three that were trapped last night.  Looking back through the photographs of the moths we have recorded, there doesn’t seem to be a good image of this moth.  According to the reference books it only flies in early spring – I think I must have mistaken this moth’s identity in the past.  This one remained motionless when being examined and photographed.  The scientific name refers to the goddess Artemis (Orthosia being another name) and the ‘gothic arch’ described on the fore-wings.

Sallow blossom 

The third moth can be seen below – the Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata).  Pugs are a problem to identify but I am pretty sure this one is straightforward – it is the correct season and the photographic comparisons show a match.  The distinguishing marks appear to be consistent.  This pretty little moth feeds on sallow too.

Correction.  Charlie Fletcher has identified this as a Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata) and not a Common Pug.

 Not a Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata)