27 August 2015 - Playing Dead

Pale Eggar (Trichiura crataegi)

Today we investigated a trap that seemed at first to be overflowing with wasps. At the beginning of the summer, we would trap out on the lawn at the top of the garden, but the wasps set up a nest there; so for the past few weeks we have been trapping in the quarry at the very back of the garden and it appears the wasps have finally infiltrated that area as well. Luckily, it was easy enough to coax them out of the trap using paintbrushes (they are quite dozy in the morning) and examine a catch that was, at last, not completely inundated by Underwings.

This trap was actually quite varied in comparison to what we've been getting recently. There were the typical Large Yellow Underwings, Common Rustics, Mother of Pearls, and other familiar faces - but there were also a few more distinctive moths, and the arrival of a new species, which brings Shandy Hall's total up to 370. The former included the Small Phoenix, Feathered Gothic, Green Carpet, Svensson's Copper Underwing, and the Centre-Barred Swallow. The latter is the Pale Eggar, an unobtrusively quiet little grey moth that we found resting on the side of the trap.

The Pale Eggar sits with its wings folded up in a little triangle, and comes in varying shades of grey. It has a distinctively darker middle section outlined by two black edges; a checkered border along the very bottom of its wings; and a distinctively fluffy head that almost looks like a furry cape. Its scientific name is Trichiura crataegi. Trichiura references its tufty and visible tail, and crataegi is one of its foodplants, as listed by Linnaeus - hawthorn. The one that we caught was no doubt unpleasantly surprised to find itself in captivity and at first attempted to play dead, but eventually couldn't resist righting itself in the container and allowed us to capture a few decent photographs.


Pale Eggar (Illustration)

Post : Ariel A Smith (UPenn)

25 August 2015 - Thief in the Garden

Cloaked Minor (Mesoligia  furuncula)
The last overnight trap in the Yorkshire Museum Gardens produced two species that are both new to me - the Cloaked Minor (Mesoligia furuncula) and Ysolopha sylvella.  I am waiting to hear from Stuart Ogilvy to determine if they are new to the gardens as well.  

The Cloaked Minor identification needed Charlie Fletcher's expert eye - I thought it was a Tawny Marbled Minor (Oligia strigilis).  The moth flies from late July to early September and the caterpillar feeds on grasses including Tufted Hair-grass and False Oat-grass.  The scientific name means 'little thief'.  The one we caught is fresh from the chrysalis and the markings are beautifully detailed.


Cloaked Minor varieties (illus)
The illustration shows both dark and pale varieties of the Cloaked Minor moth.  
The plant is Milk Parsley.


Ysolopha sylvella
A micro moth with clear and distinct markings is always welcome - you generally recognize it if you have seen it before. If you haven't then there is a good chance that the Field Guide to Micromoths will contain an illustration and present you with that gratification that comes with identification.  The Ysolopha sylvella above could have walked straight out of the pages of the Field Guide - but still there was a possibility that it could be Ysolopha alpella...



Choetochilus sylvellus (19) Hypsolopha asperella (11)
In British Moths and their Transformations (1845)an earlier classification can be found and the common name was the Wood Autumn.  Fig 11 was the Chequered Hook-tip.  Is alpella a later version of asperella?  I am completely stumped. 

25 August 2015 - Underwing Invasion

Yellow Underwings
On many occasions this year the trap has been sparsely populated with moths. One night last week was the exception.  The forecast was for overcast cloud and warmer temperatures which (the following night) would conspire to bring torrential rain down upon the Hambleton Hills.  However it was still dry when I inspected the trap at 6am and was disconcerted to see hundreds and hundreds of deranged Underwings hurtling around inside the trap.  There must have been 25 egg cartons beneath the light and every one was crammed with insect explosives. The photograph above shows the trap after nearly all of the cartons had been removed, most of the Underwings having zoomed into the surrounding vegetation and some degree of order established.  The problem is the damage caused to other, less boisterous moths.  A tiny Chinese Character had found a millimeter of space in which to hide; a Magpie had spread its wings under the lip of the plastic container in an attempt to avoid the flailing wings of the beserkers. 

Underwings (illus)
The plate from Humphreys and Westwood, British Moths and their Transformations, showing various members of the Underwing clan with Oxlip, Goat's-beard and Common Chickweed.


Sallow (Xanthia ictericia)
It took nearly two hours before I could claim to have restored some sort of order - the known species listed and the possible unknown or new specimens housed in plastic tubes. And this one was new.  The Sallow (Xanthia ictericia) was discovered on the outside of the trap, clinging to a plastic rain-shield support.  Its name is interesting as the ictericia refers to the Greek work 'ikteros' - a yellow bird, similar to an Oriole, that is supposed to relieve the sufferer of jaundice by absorbing the illness into its own body.  The 'sallow' human gazes at the bird and the bird takes away the symptoms.  This is species 369 for the gardens at Shandy Hall.

21 August 2015 - Pine Hawkmoth

Pine Hawkmoth (Sphinx pinastri)
On 17 August we set two traps: one at Barley Studio just outside of York, and the second at Keith Barley's garden in Warthill. I'll confess that I didn't have high hopes for the first one, because it was set at the studio, which is very functional - meaning there aren't exactly sprawling gardens. We put it on the asphalt behind one of the buildings, walled in by a fence corner facing a field. There were some grasses and nettles that poked through, but for the most part, it was nothing like Shandy Hall. The second one seemed much more promising - Keith's garden has grasses and flowers, and is in a seemingly moth-friendly area; we set it on a tree stump, surrounded by large bushes.

That night and the morning of the 18 August a deluge set in, which had not been forecast; we had no idea what to expect as we pulled up to the studio. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see a fair amount of moths - more than our last trap in the Museum Gardens at York - and very active inside the trap. There was a Ruby Tiger, around twenty Mother of Pearls, the usual variety of Underwings and Rustics, along with a Heart & Dart. There was also a beautifully colored Magpie, of deep black, yellow, and clean white; an Orange Swift, striped with a thin white band; the marble-winged Anania coronata; and two striped variations on the Riband and Small Fan-footed Waves.  More about this catch will be written by Helen Whittaker who works at the stained-glass studio.

At Keith's garden we found the usual suspects - and one very, very unusual Pine Hawk-moth. Because we'd only encountered Poplar and Elephant Hawk-moths at Shandy Hall this summer up until now, I expected something more colorful; but this one had a symmetric and subtler design that could be appreciated nonetheless. It has distinctive black streaks in the center of its wings, with a black-barred abdomen and a greyish-brown color to its forewings, and a distinctively checkered border on its wing edge. Its foodplants are the Scots Pine, Maritime Pine, Norway Spruce, and Cedar of Lebanon, but the former is the most common, and it is about the same size as the other hawk-moths - meaning it's one of the largest in the trap.

Pine Hawkmoth and larva (illustration)

The scientific name is Sphinx pinastri; the first referencing the murderous, riddle-loving Egyptian Sphinx, and the second referencing the pine of the moth's food-plant. As the moth seemed fairly docile and didn't mind our extensive photographing, I'll argue that the genus is just for show.  
Note: UK moths website refers to this moth as Sphinx - the Field Guide as Hyloicus...

Bordered Pug (Eupithicia succenturiata)

After consulting with Charlie Fletcher, we came up with a few names that hadn't been seen at Shandy Hall this summer: the Pale Mottled Willow and the Wormwood Pug - along with names that have never been recorded at Shandy Hall. Although these weren't trapped in our gardens, which technically doesn't allow us to label them as "new," we can still classify them as new to the blog: the Bordered Pug (Eupithecia succenturiata) and Tinea trinotella.

The former is exactly as it sounds: a light tan pug with two dots on each wing and a thick, dark brown border running along the edges of its wings. It has an abdomen that is half light, half dark; it's a very distinctive moth. The Bordered Pug's scientific name is Eupithecia succenturiata, which first references its attractive appearance and the way it rests, with its wings spread - the second component referring to a recruit substituted into the Roman century, as the pug's little wings overlap and "substitute" the larger ones.

Tinea trinotella

The second "new" moth is a minuscule micro-moth that's a light greenish brown; it has a couple of distinctive large black dots on its wings, a tufted tail that turns upwards at the end, and a bright yellow head. Its scientific name references the larva, which is apparently destructive to clothes. The second word references the dark blotches on its wings.

Post by Ariel A Smith (UPenn)

17 August 2015 - Gold Spot in York

Gold Spot (Plusia festucae)

On 12 August we ventured to York to trap for a second time at the Museum Gardens. The night was another cold one, and we got a trap about as full as the last time we worked in York - that is to say, there weren't many moths. Usually, when I approach the trap in the morning, I can see lots of moths fluttering around; the Underwings and Barred Straws in particular like to stir up trouble, although the latter have stopped showing up lately. This time, I could only see a few cautiously moving about the tops of the egg-boxes.

When we opened the trap we found some familiar moths: Clay, Common Rustic, Dark Arches, Riband Wave, Grey Dagger, the Dun-bar, among others; we also had less-common appearances by the Shuttle-shaped Dart, a Herald, and a Marbled Beauty. Funnily enough, the only other time we've gotten a Herald was during our previous trip to York, so it appears they frequent the Museum Gardens this month. As a reminder, the Herald is the triangle-shaped moth with beautifully wavy wing edges, subtle white stripes and dots, and bright orange pools of color that creep down from its head and fade into brown.

We were also lucky enough to come across the Gold Spot, which is an incredibly distinctive type of moth that I've been hoping to see all summer. It's a mix of browns, golds, oranges, and a burnished brass color, with three large, circular white markings on each wing. It's essentially the size and shape of one of the Y moths, except for the single large tuft on its shoulders rather than three smaller ones. It's reasonably common and is a fan of damp spaces; its scientific name is Plusia festucae - rich eater of fescue grass.


Post: Ariel A Smith (UPenn)


16 August 2015 - Patron of Steampunk

Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothe populi)
My first real introduction to the moth world was about 10 years ago at one of the early trappings at Shandy Hall.  Amongst the hoard on that night was an Elephant Hawk-moth and I will never forget the sense of complete, total and utter awe on seeing that exotic vivid pink and green downy creature that seemed, at least to me, to belong to another place and time if not to another planet entirely.

Interest was further charged when the strange and ramshackle silky structures in the hedgerows that I had noticed were identified as home to small enclaves of hairy red and black caterpillars.  It transpired that these were the result of the larvae of the Small Eggar - quite a rare moth.  We have made several attempts now at trapping the adult moth but to no avail and the 'seldom seen' moth remains elusive and never, ever seen in Brawby.

Last Sunday's trap was the first undertaken in the height of summer.  The previous attempts had been made in February/March and whilst failing miserably to land a trophy catch they were also highly effective in catching absolutely nothing else whatsoever. It was with a great sense of relief (followed by an even greater sense of anticipation) that Monday morning presented us with a full, fizzing and rattling trap of delights.  The trap had been set in the shelter of a young walnut tree and other small fruit trees and these too had collected a fair few hangers-on which received our attention once the contents of the trap had been photographed, identified and released.

Careful analysis of the hoard is a twofold wonder: the visual curiosity followed by the world of nomenclature which is equally extraordinary and mysterious.  You can't help but be drawn into the imagination of others, a sense of renewed history and learning.

The moths that particularly caught my interest can be seen below. 

Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothe populi)
The Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothe populi) had to be included.  It's a true showstopper that looks as if it was designed by Jules Verne with John Beresford Fowler as colour consultant. A placid, architectural machine leaf, patron moth of steampunk.  I was absolutely delighted it was there for us.

Blood-vein (Timandra comae) 
As if the name was not enough, this delicate moth with faintly red-tinged wingtips and a blood-vein traversing its open back

Shoulder-striped Wainscot (Mythimna comma)
The lines on the wings and the way that they fold...

Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis)

Mesmerised by the markings - hearing the name spoken made me look in greater detail. Names are very important.  

Other moths from the Brawby catch included : Chinese Character, Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix, Bird-cherry Ermin, Brimstone, Agapeta hamana, Eudonia lacustrata, Flame Carpet, Flame Shoulder, Magpie, Common Rustic, Dingy Footman, Dusky Sallow, Early Thorn, Orange Swift, Pebble Prominent, Udea lutealis, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Small Fan-footed Wave and Riband Wave. 

Post by Peter Coates

7 August 2015 - The Other Micro

Blastobasis adustella 

The other micro (see previous post) has been officially identified as the Dingy Dowd (Blastobasis adustella).  Now it has been pointed out to me it seems impossible that I should have gone backwards and forwards through the Field Guide without noticing the chevron shape the moth carries on its wings.  Blastobasis adustella is one of seven species in this family - the adults resting with their wings overlapping and the antennae held alongside the body. Adustella feeds on dead juniper leaves and the empty seed pods of gorse and (like the others in the Blastobasidae family) was probably introduced to the UK through the horticultural trade.  I can find no reference in Westwood and Humphreys so it probably wasn't around in the early part of the nineteenth century.  This one is about 7mm in length.

6 August 2015 - Mothing in York


Herald (Scoliopteryx libatrix)

On Tuesday night we ventured to York to set the trap. It was getting chilly by the time we arrived at the Yorkshire Museum Gardens, and the wind was picking up, so we set up right next to the museum, sheltered between small bushes. Arriving early the next morning, we saw that the moths had been deterred from their night flights by the weather; only a few rested on the egg-cartons - I think it was one of the smallest catches of the summer.

Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta puta)

However, despite the dearth of moths, we did come across a few species that we hadn't seen yet this season, such as the Shuttle-shaped Dart (a mottled macro that could easily blend in to any brown surface) and the neatly spotted Bryotropha domestica micro. The leaflike brown-and-orange Herald and the tan Dun-bar were my favorites of the bunch - the Dun-bar looks like a brown Scalloped Oak, as both have the middle bar and two distinctive blackish dots on either wing.  Two micros are still not definitely identified but we will report as soon as we know what they are.*

(Argyresthia goedartella)*

The others present were mostly ones we'd seen before - Common Rustic, Dark Arches, Garden Grass-Veneer, Heart and Dart, Yellow Underwings. After wrestling with the wind to persuade them into little tubes and a mesh box, as the egg-cartons kept blowing away and several moths happily escaped on the breeze, we set up the project on the path that runs straight through the gardens. Several people stopped on their separate ways to work to inquire about the project.  We hope to return soon next week and set up another trap - one that will hopefully yield a larger range and amount of moths!


*Argyresthia goedartella or Golden Argent  has been identified by Charlie Fletcher.  This micro has not been seen at Shandy Hall and I'll check with Stuart Ogilvy at YMT to see if it is new for that site.

Post : Ariel A Smith (UPenn)

3 August 2015 - Luddington-in-the-Brook



Small China-mark (Cataclysta lemnata)
No mercury vapour light was needed to lure this beautiful micro-moth as it danced a mysterious and convoluted flight just over the surface of a garden-pond.  Another joined it in flight - and then another.  I hadn't seen the moth before but guessed it might be a China-mark because of the proximity of the pond - and I was right.  The Small China-mark (Cataclysa lemnata) is the moth which emerges from the larval state after the caterpillar has spent some time underwater and has then fashioned a cocoon of duck-weed.  I will keep my eye on the pond here in Yorkshire and hope to record it as a new visitor. 

Small China-mark (illustration male and female)

The hand-coloured illustration from British Moths and their Transformations  (Westwood and Humphreys) shows the male and female Small China-mark  



Least Carpet (Idaea rusticata)

Many moths are astonishingly beautiful and the best of those, in my opinion, are Carpet moths. The Lime-speck Pug and the Foxglove Pug must be included in any list of beauty, but the Least Carpet (above) is the best I have seen for a long time. Neither of these moths are to be included in the Shandy Hall list as they were both trapped and identified in Luddington-in-the-Brook, where Carry Akroyd has her home and studio.  The Least Carpet is common in the Thames Valley but there are only 14 records of its appearance in Yorkshire.  Having seen one for the first time it should make it easier to spot if it does decide to extend its range to Coxwold.  The patterns on the wings appear to be layers of cream, silk and chocolate all piled up together.

Least Carpet Moths (male and female illustration)



Dot Moth (Melanchra persicariae)
Another moth that hasn't been recorded at Shandy Hall is the Dot Moth (Melanchra persicariae) despite the fact that it is fairly common and the numbers are stable.  This moth could well turn up in the garden at Shandy Hall or perhaps in the gardens of the Yorkshire Museum where we will be moth-trapping tomorrow night.  The 'catch' can be seen if you happen to be passing through the gardens on Wednesday between 8 and 9.30 in the morning.

Dot Moth with food plant and caterpillar (illustration)

The illustration shows the Dot Moth (Fig 11) beneath the caterpillar which is climbing up the stem of the food plant. Persicariae, part of the scientific name, refers to Polygonum persicaria.  There seems to be some confusion regarding the classification of this plant as it is also included in the Bistort family.  The vernacular names of this plant are many - Adderwort, Pink Pokers, Twice-writhen, Passion Dock, Oysterloit and Easter Ledger to name but six.  

1 August 2015 - Small Fan-footed Wave

Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata)

This moth is the Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata). It was observed in a plastic tube as that was the only way to get a good look at it.  It kept fluttering around, resistant of immobility, and then would crouch in the cap at the bottom of the tube so the picture you see is the result of both trickery and patience. It wasn't easy to identify because it's a little worn and its markings are not very distinct; we wondered if it might be the Dotted-border Wave. I've enhanced the contrast on this image so you can see its identifying marks with more clarity.

Its scientific name is Idaea biselata Idaea for the mountain from which the mythological Greek goddesses and gods watched the Trojan War; and biselata for the tufts on the back legs of the male. Funnily enough, biselata should actually be bisetata; it's a typographical error that has stuck.

The catch from yesterday had little else of note, unless you have an affinity for the Common Footman (Eilema lurideola); they were everywhere, hidden under almost every one of the egg cartons, perched along the rim of the trap, and scrambling for exodus after we removed the top. However, it did seem to be the catch of moth-friendship; two Muslin Footmen seated together, the tips of their wings overlapping.  Three Wainscots huddled in alliance, probably plotting their escape from their temporary residence.


Three Wainscots


The Small Fan-footed Wave is species number 368 for Shandy Hall gardens.

Post : Ariel A Smith (UPenn)

29 July 2015 - Poplar and Oak

Poplar Grey (Subacronicta megacephala)

We went out on a windy morning a few days ago to find the trap full of moths - but the catch yielded much repetition. There were many Clays, Large Yellow Underwings, Common Footmen, Muslin Footmen; there must have been a dozen Uncertains and Rustics to note. We combed through the cartons, looking for something worthy of a write-up; these moths were now becoming familiar and I was able to easily recognize many of the species.

Luckily, we identified a Poplar Grey (Subacronicta megacephala), which is worthy of note because, according to our records,  we've only seen it once before at Shandy Hall. I say lucky because it was both lucky that we caught it in the first place and lucky that it didn't blow away while we were noting the catch - a number of the moths tumbled out of the trap and eagerly flew off with the wind as we opened the top.

The Poplar Grey's scientific name first means 'nightfall', and secondly 'large-head', which references the form of the larva. At first, the adult appears quite difficult to identify because it resembles many other grey, black, and white densely-patterned moths. Upon closer inspection, I was able to define its identifying characteristic: two small white dots on the far edges of each of its wings. It has striped legs, and its antennae lay flat along the sides of its back.

As it turns out, this isn't a species new to Shandy Hall; it was recorded a few years ago, but hasn't been photographed or written about before. It is a decent-sized dusky moth, not particularly memorable, but one of the few standouts in a trapping that was otherwise rather recognizable and repetitive.

Oak Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus)

A photograph of the Oak Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus) has been included, a moth we caught on 22 July. When I saw it, I immediately thought of the Drinker moth which is of a similar shape and colour with a similar marking on the wings - except the resting position is different. The Oak Eggar rests with its wings spread out in a neat little equilateral triangle, whereas the Drinker rests with them folded up, and is best viewed from the side. The Eggar we caught is a female, because it is a very light brown; its antennae are undecorated and without feathers.

We were fortunate enough to get a good photograph of this one; you can see the distinctive fluffy top of its head that tends down on its back like a little cloak. This is one of the few moths that actually looks sturdy. Most of the ones we find are delicate and their tiny legs flimsy as spiderwebs. This one, however, looks relatively new; it's well colored; and it's of a size to seemingly hold its own against the elements.


Post : Ariel A Smith (UPenn)

22 July 2015 - Unwelcome at the Bake Off

Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis)

In today's catch, we discovered another species new to Shandy Hall. This one is called the Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis). The genus references an unknown species of bird or winged insect which is supposed to live in fire; we cannot take this literally, and it must simply allude to its attraction to light. Additionally, Linnaeus divided any moth other than a hawk-moth into seven families; Pyralis was a name for one such family. Farinalis means that the moth lives on flour. 

The Meal Moth is common and widespread - but is usually found inside stables, grain stores, et cetera; places with easy access to grain and flour. Although it has very specific markings, it was difficult to identify because none of us had ever seen it before and because of those characteristic feeding grounds - the components of which are nowhere to be found at Shandy Hall. At first, Patrick thought it looked similar to a Phoenix - the abdomen is curled up when the moth is at rest - but the markings are completely different.  I discovered it by accident - looking through pictures, searching for the identifying characteristics of various other moths, and there it was, resting with its abdomen turned up. The shape of its wings and abdomen distinctly remind me of the very common Barred Straw. It has distinctive, clearly delineated bars of color on its wings; these are purplish and brown, separated by white lines.  And it is a Micro-moth so we were all looking in the wrong Field Guide...
Welcome species 367.

Post : Ariel A Smith (UPenn)
Meal Moth (illustration)


21 July 2015 - Elegant in Repose

Pimpinel Pug (Eupithecia pimpinellata)
The Field Guide says to be careful not to confuse this moth with the Wormwood Pug; and take care not to mistake it for a Yarrow Pug; it could also be a Campanula Pug.  Fortunately the photograph (above) was taken at high resolution and the moth's identity has been confirmed by Charlie Fletcher as a Pimpinel Pug (Eupithecia pimpinellata).  The adult moth is rarely seen, coming to light only occasionally, and although there are scattered records throughout the country, nowhere is it common.

Greater Burnet-saxifrage (Pimpinella major) 
The Burnet Saxifrage (Pimpinella saxifraga) is the food-plant of the larva - more particularly it is the ripening seed capsules that the caterpillar feeds on before pupating underground over the winter.  The plant pictured above is the Greater Burnet-saxifrage which is also recognised as a food-plant.  This one is just outside the kitchen at Shandy Hall and Chris has spread seeds from this specimen into the quarry over the last couple of years to encourage its growth. It is an attractive and delicate plant which will be looked at more carefully as the summer ends to see if any caterpillars can be seen.

The scientific name for this species is straightforward - Eupithecia means 'the goodly dwarf', the little moths have always seen as elegant in repose; pimpinellata - the larval foodplant.

This new and uncommon moth brings the total to 366 species.

18 July 2015 - Bend Sinister

Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis heparana)

On the 15th of July we came across a new species - the Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix. It was one of a large number of moths including Garden Tiger, Burnished Brass, and another Single-dotted Wave (readily recognizable because of the time spent identifying it the other day). This Tortrix was fairly easy to identify - I was already familiar with the Tortricidae family, because those moths come in such distinctive half-oval shapes, and it was clearly a shade too gloomy to be a Barred Fruit-tree. Its scientific name is Pandemis heparana. It is classified as "common" and flies from late May until September. What I found the most interesting about the one we caught is how the stripe in the middle of its wings comes together in the middle in a latch formation, as opposed to the neatly delineated stripes that are often drawn in the guidebooks. Natural variation made it as a result not completely obvious at first glance - but its distinctive shape gave it away, and even though the lighter-colored ones might be considered more pleasing to the eye, this was still an interesting find.

Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix (illustration)

The scientific name is rather convoluted.  Pandemis is from the Greek pandemos belonging to the people, common; also an epithet of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Plato postulated that there were two manifestations of Aphrodite, Aphrodite Urania, the goddess of heavenly love, the pure love between souls whence came our phrase Platonic love; and Aphrodite Pandemos, the goddess of the baser carnal love practised by the common people. The diagonal fascia across the wings of the moth may have suggested the bend sinister or ‘fesse’ on an heraldic shield, this being a mark of illegitimacy. The namer was J. Hübner the distinguished German entomologist, author and illustrator (1761 – 1826).

Heparana refers to the liver (hepara) coloured forewing.


Post : Ariel A Smith UPenn

16 July 2015 - Bordered White

Bordered White (Bupalus piniaria)
On Wednesday 15 July, we came across the Bordered White, which is a species new to Shandy Hall. It appears in an extraordinary variation of colors, even for just the northern specimens; the ones at Shandy Hall were a tawny color. We happened upon three at once, and all of them were males - distinguishable by their feathery antennae. The Bordered White's scientific name is Bupalus piniaria, which references Bupalus, a 6th century Greek sculptor, and pinus, the pine-tree genus (a foodplant), respectively. 

The Bordered White's flight season is generally May-June, but it can be found as late as July and early August in northern Britain, fitting with our discovery. It is interesting that it is listed as a resident and common species in our Field Guide, yet in the multiple years Shandy Hall has been moth-trapping, one hasn't shown up - which makes it even more intriguing this late in the season! 



Bordered White (♀7  ♂6) Plate 57



Footnote to Plate 57

My favorite moth from today's trapping is the Shoulder-striped Wainscot.  What I like the most about its appearance is how the two dark lines (the shoulder-stripes) make the light-colored wings look like skeletal hands, or at first glance, almost translucent.


Shoulder-striped Wainscot (Leucania comma)

15 July 2015 - The Waves


Single-dotted Wave (Ideae dimidiata)

Yesterday morning, while looking at the photographs from Thursday night's trap, we came to the conclusion that a new species had arrived at Shandy Hall - the Single-dotted Wave (Idaea dimidiata). We had difficulty locating it in Humphreys & Westwood (their illustrated picture is included beneath) because its taxonomy has changed with the years - it is recorded as Ptychopoda lividata in their 1845 edition. The moth was not easy to identify; that can in part be attributed to its proclivity to show up in varying colors - from bleached cream to tawny brown; ours was of the former. At first we suspected it might be a pug (satyr or ochreous, even though the colorings did not match up), because of the precise resting position and shape of its wings - in our photograph it appears narrower than in the Field Guide. However, the discrepancies in colors and lack of exact pattern matchings made identification inconclusive; only after consulting with Dave Chesmore from the University of York were we able to label it a new species. The Single-spotted Wave is common throughout Britain, found mainly in damp locations. I have concluded that the easiest way to recognize it is through the matching large dark dots on the edges of its wings; and how its "lines" appear to be comprised of small, speckled dots, as opposed to clearly delineated colorings

Post by Ariel Smith

Single-dotted Wave (illustration)

Having completed our investigations it was then noticed that there was an image of the Single-dotted Wave as a miscellaneous moth on the sidebar of the blog - dated 2011.  It wasn't a new species after all but had been captured and identified before the blog records were kept.


Riband Wave (Idaea aversata)

Trying to identify the pretty moth above, the colouring seemed to indicate that it must be a Smoky Wave - but it turns out to be a Riband Wave though greyer than usual.  Checking through old photographs of the Riband Wave posted on our blog, we found a second error in our archive - the moth beneath...


Small Blood-vein (Scopula imitaria)

...had been mistakenly identified as a Riband but should have qualified as a new species - the Small Blood-vein.  So the new total of 364 moth species is correct, but not as we thought.

The Small Blood-vein (Scopula imitaria) is not a common moth in North Yorkshire so we should have paid greater attention to its arrival in Coxwold.  The scientific name refers to a scopula (a small broom) and imitaria (to imitate or counterfeit). Your guess is as good as mine.

Small Blood-vein (illustration)



9 July 2015 - New Moth, New Intern

Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor)
Not new in the sense of a new species but freshly hatched - at long last.  The Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar that went underground in August 2014 has emerged and can be seen resting on the leaf of a sweet rocket plant (Hesperis matronalis). The remains of some essential, biological liquid was still inside the pupa-case but the moth's wings have dried overnight and it is ready to fly this evening.

Yesterday morning's trap gave the first positive sign that the moth population is continuing to survive in the Shandy Hall gardens and it coincided with the arrival of Ariel from the University of Pennsylvania, who will be taking over the recording of the moth species and writing the blog posts. Barred Straw, Burnished Brass, Poplar Hawk-moth, Marbled Minor, Barred Yellow, Agapeta hamana, Small Fan-foot, Flame, Flame Shoulder, Green Arches, Dark Arches, Green Pug, Uncertain, Light Emerald and a great number more were identified - with a couple of puzzles yet to be resolved.

Small Fan-foot (Herminia grisialis)

As always, time indubitably marches on, and Shandy Hall has acquired its newest intern. My name is Ariel Smith - I am a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Diplomatic History. Yesterday, on 8 July, we examined the first proper moth-trap since I arrived. In the spirit of candor, before I began working here, I had never really taken any time to examine moths on my own. I was aware of them, aware that they fly around, towards light - which I suppose is poetic if you want to distill that to its Romantic notions, but really, I had no sentiment other than apathy or faint annoyance as they crowded an outdoor flame. I've begun to appreciate, however, the subtleties in their separate evolutions; their colors (or colours) and individual variations in pattern; and how they are some of the quietest creatures I've encountered. My favorites from yesterday's catch are the Barred Yellow and the Fan-Foot; the former because it is such a bright color that seems impractical for surviving the process of natural selection, yet the species persists; and the latter because of its design, which reminds me of a hasty signature, or an ink trail.

Barred Yellow (Cidana fulvata)


Post by Ariel A Smith UPenn