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10 June 2023

6 June 2023 – A Real Spectacle

Spectacle moth (Abrostola tripartita)
Spectacle (Abrostola tripartita)

Peering into the moth trap this morning yielded a pair of eyes, staring right back!

Abrostola tripartita, or ‘Spectacle,’ sports two unmistakable black spots surrounded by white, giving the impression of two eyes, (or perhaps a pair of reading glasses) on the thorax when viewed from the front. Seemingly, these “eyes” could give unsuspecting predators quite the scare, or at least take them aback while the moth makes its escape!

The Spectacle is common throughout Britain, with two generations: The first, flying from mid-May to July, and the subsequent generation from late July to early September. Its larvae feed on Common Nettle (plentiful around Shandy Hall), while the adults feed at various flowers, and thus are common in gardens around Britain.

The scientific name, Abrostola tripartita, derives from the greek Habros, meaning beautiful, and the latin Tripartitus, referring to the wing’s three-part division.

Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens)
Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens)
Pale tussock (Calliteara pudibunda)
Pale tussock (Calliteara pudibunda)
Figure of Eighty moth
Figure of Eighty (Tethea ocularis octogesimea)

Three other species that were photographed and identified (above) were Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens), Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda) and Figure of Eighty (Tethea ocularis octogesimea).

Post by Autumn Cortright (UPenn intern).