Mystery Noc

group picture
Rose Garden- 06/10/2017

The night began with no moths, but we had faith in our Robinson trap that shined a stairway of light irresistible for any passing moth. However, what came first was the consoc members who were very interested and engaging in the moths. Our first moth of the night was very pleasant indeed, a Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) and ended up with 2 individuals. Continuing on from this crisp yellow aerofoil, another moth appeared this time less distinctive at first glance however by the general impression, wing shape and posture we could place it in the Family of Geometridea (sub-family Larentiinea).  While consulting the moth guide the temperature started to drop slightly though we eventually discovered the moth we caught was a November Moth (Epirrita dilutata). An inconspicuous species with several male forms having variable amounts of marking consisting of pale coloured underwing, vertical vain lines with black and pale white trailing edge to the forewing.

A Tawney Owl (Strix aluco) kept us company when moth action was quiet. Tawney Owls in autumn are noticeably vocal as adults attempt to oust first year individuals from there aggressively protected territory. Fortunately, a bright green moth landed beside the trap and was expertly caught and potted. A wonderful moth known as the Merveille du Jour (Dichonia aprilina) which in appearance consists of lichen greens and symmetrical black lines forming two kidney spots in the centre of the forewing. This species forms falls into the Family Noctuidae (sub-family Cuculliinae) accompanied with sharks, pinions, chestnuts, sallows and allies.

November moth 2
November Moth

The next moth that turned up took us some time to work out what species it is. The Rosy Rustic (Hydraecia micacea) which has a flight period from August to October. Orange brown with a dark central cross band bordered black containing two pale ovals on each forewing. The leading edge of the forewing is straight with a decurved sub-terminal tip. After a mothless 20 minutes we decided to check the other moth trap which in actual fact is a bus shelter, a Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens) was the only moth we found. Previously, the bus shelter has harboured some great moths of late including Barred Sallow (Xanthia aurago), Pink Barred Sallow (Xanthia togate) and Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa).

Rosy Rustic
Rosy Rustic

At 11:30pm we started to pack away the equipment. While checking the egg trays a mystery Noctuidae appeared, the abraded and worn wing where apparent instantly. This made identification problematic. Initial thoughts where leaning towards sub-family Noctuinae (including darts, underwings and clays) and Cuculliinae (Including sharks, pinions, chestnuts, sallows and allies). But, Noctuinae was more likely family as posture, shape of kidney mark and dimensions of the leading edge. After the stage of identifying the individual to family level, the next step was to decipher which genus this moth belonged to. Two moths sprung to mind Square Spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) and Small Square Spot (Diarsia rubi). Consulting opinions so I could come to a logical conclusion, an emphasis on the curvature of the leading edge, and resemblance of the small square spot on its forewing. It’s relatively conclusive that this moth is a Small Square Spot (Diarsia rubi).

Small-Square Spot
Small-square spot

 

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