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9 June 2017

9 June 2017 – Affecting Moment

Maiden’s Blush (Cyclophara punctaria)

Two days ago, when the rain stopped for a brief moment, we went out into the garden and I helped set up my first moth trap. After further downpours that same night, I will admit my expectations for the number of moths were not high. However, after going through the trap and placing each moth carefully in their own plastic tube, it would seem as though my day would be busy identifying many new species I have never come across. There were at least 16 different species in total, a couple flew away before we were able to identify them, or they were too big to temporarily imprison, like the Poplar Hawk-moth. Of the many caught, there were a few which caused some trouble with identification. One of which turned out to be quite the surprise!

The moth that created the excitement was the Maiden’s Blush (Cyclophora punctaria). At first glance, I thought the moth was a Clay Triple-lines (Cyclophora linearia). This would have been a new species so I contacted Mr. Fletcher and sent him the photograph above for verification.  Happily it was a new species but not the one I thought.  This was the first appearance for a Maiden’s Blush at Shandy Hall and the species count jumps to 405!

The diagnostic features are its reddish blush and the multitude of dark grey dots speckled throughout. There are different variations of Maiden’s Blush, some of which have patterns which are more apparent and others, like the one above, have patterns which are harder to identify. Its scientific name ‘Cyclophora’ derives from ‘kuklos’, a ring, or ‘phoreō’, meaning to carry; ‘punctaria’ means ‘punctum’ or dot, which describes the many dots scattered on the wings.

Oak in the quarry.

The Maiden’s Blush mainly resides in oak woodland and the larvae like to feed on oaks – generally Pedunculate Oak, Sessile Oak, and Turkey Oak. There are  two small oak trees located in our quarry but we are not sure which varieties they are.  If the moth lays eggs we will see if any caterpillars appear looking like the one beneath.

Maiden’s Blush caterpillar

The other moth which caused some confusion was the Plum Tortrix (Hedya pruniana). While we were leaning on it being a Plum Tortrix, we were still uncertain if it was that or a Marbled Orchard Tortrix (Hedya nubiferana). These two species have caused trouble in the past with other interns as well. Mr. Fletcher kindly identified this species. Its name ‘pruniana’ refers to the blackthorn on which the larvae feed.

Plum Tortrix (Hedya pruniana)

Post : Walter Chen (UPenn intern)