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"A Nature Observer′s Scrapbook"

Macro Moths, page 5

Green-brindled Crescent

Green-brindled Crescent

Allophyes oxyacanthae

The Green-brindled Crescent is a striking moth. The dull metallic green markings, very like the patina seen on old copper or bronze, are unmistakable. At rest on lichen covered tree bark, it will be very well camouflaged. The 'crescent' reference in the common name is less obvious. It refers to the small white crescent shaped marks close to the forewing trailing edge, just beyond the dark cross band.

There is a darker form, that lacks the dusting of green wing scales, and that is more usually found in urban industrial areas.

It is a single generation species, flying from September to November, when it can be found at Ivy flowers and over-ripe fruit.

Eggs are laid singly on the twigs of the food plant late in the year and will not hatch until the Spring foliage breaks out.

The larvae feed from April to June on a wide range of plants including Hawthorn, Blackthorn, crab apple, dog rose and cotoneasters.

25.09.1999 Attracted to light.
05.10.2007 Attracted to light.
01.10.2008 Attracted to light.
26.09.2009 Attracted to light - and a frequent visitor throughout October.
17.01.2014An overwintered flyer from 2013 generation.
24.09. - 18.10.2014Attracted to light.

Burnished Brass Burnished Brass

Burnished Brass

Diachrysia chrysitis

The Burnished Brass is a spectacular moth with a metalic sheen on it's wings that reflects light in a mirror-like way. This can cause the same moth to look quite different when seen in light or shade. And as the moth ages so the effect tends to fade.

It is quite a common moth and is frequently seen throughout mainland Britain during June and July. In the south a second generation may extend the flight window into August and September.

It tends to fly early in the evening, feeding on nectar from Honeysuckle and Buddleias and later into the night it can be attracted to light.

The larvae feed on common Stinging Nettle, White Dead Nettle and Spear Thistle and will overwinter low down on the foodplant. With the emergence of new growth in the spring the caterpillars will resume feeding and, when mature, will pupate in a cocoon on the underside of a leaf.

Two other family members, the Slender Burnished Brass and the Scarce Burnished Brass are less common and not as spectacular.

23.08. - 08.09.2009
Two generations attracted to lighted window.
09.06. - 08.07.2010
03.09. - 08.09.2010
Two generations attracted to lighted window.
31.08. - 02.10.2011
Two generations attracted to lighted window.
14.08. - 07.09.2012
Two generations attracted to lighted window.
02.07. - 22.07.2013
22.08. - 07.10.2013
Two generations attracted to lighted window.
18.06. - 12.07.2014
Two generations attracted to lighted window.
Two generations attracted to lighted window.



Xanthia icteritia

There are several Sallow species all with their subtle 'look-a-like' qualities and a range of variations within each species. Fortunately, this image is of a mid range specimen of the Sallow, Xanthia icteritia, species. So, while paler or darker individuals are seen - with more - or less, intense markings, this is a good baseline model.

The single generation is widespread throughout the UK from August to October and can be seen supping Ivy flower nectar and over-ripe fruit juices.

Eggs are laid close to catkin buds on sallows and poplars and will overwinter there until spring. On hatching, the larvae will feed within the catkins until after the catkins fall. Thereafter the larvae will feed on herbaceous plants such as Docks for several weeks before pupating in an underground cocoon.

22.09.2006 Bathroom visitor, attracted to light.

Poplar Grey

Poplar Grey

Acronicta megacephala

The Poplar Grey, as it's name suggests, is usually associated with Poplar trees, - and sallows. It flies from May to August and can be found mainly in the South of the UK but up to southern Scotland.

It can be identified from other grey moths by the white outlined circular (orbicular) wing mark and a pale patch below the kidney shaped (reniform) mark lower down the wing.

The greyish larva with sparse hair tufts sprouting from the sides of its body is invariably seen at rest with its head turned back alongside the body.

From September onwards it overwinters as a pupa in a loose cocoon in a crack in the tree bark.

01.07.2006 Found on grey patio slab at night.
05.07.2014 Attracted to light.



Acronicta aceris

The Sycamore moth is a pale grey moth which can be confused with its family relative, the Poplar Grey. It flies from June to August.

This brightly coloured larva was found caught in a spiders web under a Horse Chestnut tree. I presume that it had been partially paralysed by the spider because although it was relocated back on the tree, it barely moved over a period of days and did not survive.

The larvae can be found on Sycamore (!), Field Maple and Horse Chestnut. And pupate in a sturdy double layer coccon tucked into a crack in the tree bark - sometimes overwintering twice.

30.07.2006 Found in spiders web, apparently paralysed.

Brown Rustic

Brown Rustic

Rusina ferrunginea

The Brown Rustic is subject to some variation in colour and intensity of markings and, particularly with the darker forms, it can sometimes be quite difficult to see the distinguishing features.

The upper image shows the two thin dark cross lines and the series of white dots on the leading edge of the wing that are constant and show up rather better in enlarged images than they would appear to the naked eye.

Brown Rustic, male 28mm Brown Rustic larva

The male in the second image (forewing length 16 - 18mm) sports prominent feathered antennae, and is larger than the female which is usually less well marked and can sometimes be confusingly difficult to identify.

The single generation generally fly in June and July although I have seen solitary individuals turn up in mid-May. The males especially, are attracted to light, and are often seen at lit windows.

From August through to April/May the larvae will feed at night on a wide range of plants including vetches, plantains and docks. They tend to be shy and secretive, feeding close to the ground and are consequently not often seen.

Some will over-winter as larvae sheltering from the worst of the winter weather beneath their food plants. Having grown to about 30mm, pupation will take place in an underground cocoon.

01.07.2006 Attracted to light indoors.
07.06.2007 Attracted to light indoors.
18.06.2008 Attracted to light indoors.
21.05.2009 Attracted to a lighted window.
20.05 - 11.07.2010 Attracted to light.
13.05 - 05.07.2011 Attracted to light.
12.06 - 08.07.2012 Attracted to light.
06.06 - 13.07.2013 Attracted to light.
25.05. - 02.07.2014 Attracted to light.



Cosmia trapezina

The Dun-bar moth is very variable in background coloration. The one seen here lies at the pale end of the range but they can extend through to dark brown with occasional grey and reddish forms. There is one form which has a dark brown band between the cross lines in the middle of the wings but generally the cross line markings are discrete and visible.

The single generation flies July to September. It over-winters as an egg and the larvae are found April to June.

The larvae have been found feeding on most broadleaved trees but will favour Pedunculate Oak, Elm, Birch, Blackthorn, Hawthorn and Willow. Large larvae are known to be omnivivorous and will eat other moth larvae.

Being a broadleaved tree feeder, it is most common in woodland habitats.

25.07.2006 Attracted to light at back-door.
05.07. - 06.08.2014 Frequent visitor attracted to light.

Dark Arches

Dark Arches

Apamea monoglypha

The Dark Arches is another moth which comes in various shades of background wing colour, from straw to dark brown but fortunately its wing markings are constant. Principally, the oval (orbicular) and kidney shaped (reniform) pale marks halfway down the wing are clearly seen. On the trailing edge of each forewing there is a white 'W' mark and high up on each wing shoulder there is an elongated dark 'V'.

On some of the darker northern forms the marks may not be so obvious but they can usually be detected, knowing where to look.

It is quite a large moth with a forewing length of 25mm. The single generation flies June to August.

Young larvae feed on small flowers but later, feed on the roots and stems of grasses from the safety of a ground level chamber in which it hibernates. Pupation takes place below ground.

08.07.2005 Spent the night indoors and found on inside of window.
29.07.2008 Attracted to lighted window.
23.06. - 30.08.2014 Attracted to light.

Middle-barred Minor

Middle-barred Minor

Oligia fasciuncula pallida

Oligia fasciuncula is a rather striking orange/brown moth with more distictive markings than seen here but I have it on good authority that this image is representative of the pallida form of the Middle-barred Minors.

Quite small, with a forewing length of about 12mm, it flies from June to July and is quite commonly seen day flying and supping nectar.

The small larvae feed primarily on Tufted Hairgrass and continue to feed at night throughout the winter, sheltering within the leaf sheath by day and the worst of the winter weather.

It pupates at the base of the foodplant during the month of May.

10.06.2003 Three on Hogweed flowers.
25.05. - 23.06.2014 Attracted to light.

Rosy Minor, top view Rosy Minor, side view

Rosy Minor

Mesoligia literosa

My first impression of this Rosy Minor was that it was badly worn but, closer inspection showed it to be in good condition. What I had taken to be faded colours were in fact gently blended soft shades of fawn, grey and pinkish brown.

Worn specimens tend to lose hair on top of their thorax just behind the head but, as can be seen in the side view, this one was carrying it's dense tufts proudly.

With a forewing length of 13mm this is a medium sized species, flying in July and August.

It favours coastal areas and Marram grass but, it is also found in chalky calcareous grassland habitats, where the larvae feed on Cocks-foot grass, sedges and cereal crops.

In September, young larvae will initially feed on the root system then move up to feed from within the stem until the following June. Pupation takes place either in ground litter or below ground level.

31.07.2006 Flew indoors attracted to light.
15.08.2008 Pale faded specimen attracted to light.
18.06. - 05.07.2014 Attracted to light.

'probably' Common Rustic

Common Rustic? -
........... Lesser Common Rustic?

Mesapamea secalis agg.

The Common Rustic and Lesser Common Rustic share many variations of colour and markings. Indeed it's only relatively recently that the Lesser Common Rustic was identified as a separate and distinct species. Since it takes microscopic examination to determine which is which, for the layman, naked eye identification is impossible and the only safe label to apply is 'Mesapamea secalis agg.', that is, one of the similar looking Common Rustic aggregate group.

It is the general rule when recording species that in the absence of certainty then the subject should be deemed to belong to an aggregate group of similar looking specie named after the statistically most common member.

That said, the upper image is thought 'probably' to be of a Common Rustic.

'possibly' Lesser Common Rustic

And the lower image, because of the chalky white kidney shaped marks and pale outer fringe on the wings, is thought 'possibly' to be of a Lesser Common Rustic.
But, in the absence of intrusive examination, neither identification can be considered certain.

Both species are considered common throughout the UK and produce only one generation per year, flying during the months of July and August. If a similar looking moth is found during the winter months, it will most likely be the Satellite moth, the following species.

Their larvae feed inside the stems of grasses from September to May and pupate throughout June in underground cocoons.

15.07.2006 The 'possible' Lesser Common Rustic flew indoors, attracted to light.
29.07.2009 'Probable' Common Rustic attracted to light.
05.08.2009 'Probable' Common Rustic attracted to light.
14.08.2009 'Probable' Common Rustic attracted to light.
27.07. - 23.08.2014 Attracted to light.

Satellite moth


Eupsilia transversa

If wing markings alone were used for identification purposes then this species might well be confused with the Common Rustic / Lesser Common Rustics moths (see previous species). But this is a winter flying species, to be found between October and April, whereas the previous specie are summer flying moths seen in July and August. The Satellite gets it's common name from the two little satellite dots either side of the larger dot on the wing. The colour of the wing dots can vary from orange to brilliant white - and this one has both orange and white satellite dots.

The specimen seen on the right was attracted to light at night in mid October and, presumably, had recently hatched from pupation. Many moths may be seen to release a few drops of liquid. In the case of newly hatched moths this may simply be disposal of excess body fluid to reduce body weight and ease the flight load. But, other moths, especially those with a fairly long flight window, will sup nectar, fruit juices and water for sustenance and any excess fluid will be released in the 'normal, natural' way. So, if fluid release is noticed, it should not necessarily be assumed to be un-natural or due to injury.

The larvae normally feed at night between April and June on the leaves of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel or Maple and hide during the day between folded leaves. As they mature, they are also known to predate on other caterpillars.

The species is regarded as common throughout most of the UK but less so in northern Scotland.

24.02.2010 Found at night on a well used bird feeder. (Living dangerously!)
17.10.2010 Pristine adult attracted to light at night.
04.03 - 05.03.2014 2013 over wintered moths attracted to light.

Flounced Rustic Flounced Rustic, dark form

Flounced Rustic

Luperina testacea

The Flounced Rustic is another species which can be quite variable in colour but consistent in its markings. The images show a mid-range form and a dark form. But pale straw - and intermediate versions, may also be found.

In coastal areas, further confusion can arise where the similar very variable Sandhill Rustic species is also to be found.

The single generation flies during August and September and is frequently attracted to light.

Being a late season moth, larvae may not hatch until September or October and will feed, weather permitting, throughout the winter. Extreme cold will induce a period of dormancy.

The larvae feed on the roots and stems of Common Couch, fescue grasses and sometimes cereals and spend much of their time underground where they will over-winter.

This subterranean existence results in a very pale almost colourless caterpillar. Pupation occurs in the leaf litter.

30.08.2005 At rest on patio paving slabs.
25.08.2006 Flew indoors, attracted to light..
11.08. - 11.09.2014 Attracted to light.

Frosted Orange

Frosted Orange

Gortyna flavago

The Frosted orange is one of the more consistent moths. Variation is slight. So, with its clearly defined markings, it is one of the easier ones to identify. And, to make it easier still, when disturbed the moth will often feign death, tuck its legs up and lay perfecly still, then crawl slowly off into cover..

The single generation flies quite late in the year, from August to October and autumn laid eggs will overwinter and hatch in April.

The larvae feed inside the stems of strong growing plants such as Thistles, Burdocks and Foxgloves.

09.09.2004 Found as it sought cover in grass bank in daylight.
16.09.2014 Attracted to light.

Mottled Rustic

Mottled Rustic

Caradrina morpheus

The Mottled Rustic is one of several similar looking moths. With a forewing length of about 15mm it is one of the smaller macro moths and might be confused with the Uncertain, the Rustic and Vine's Rustic. It's distinguishing features are the dark ill-defined spots on the forewing which in the other species tend to be paler and more distinct and a silky sheen to freshly hatched wings.

The single generation flies from June to August and is commonly found throughout lowland England, Wales and Ireland and in isolated communities on the east and west coasts of Scotland.

The larvae feed nocturnally on various common plants such as nettles, docks and bedstraws and overwinter in an underground cocoon before pupating in the spring.

05.07.2003 Attracted to light.
02.07.2007 Attracted to light.
04.07.2009 Attracted to lighted window.
06.06. - 17.07.2014 Attracted to lighted window.

Silver Y, top view Silver Y, side view

Silver Y

Autographa gamma

Trying to get a good image of the Silver Y in it's natural surroundings I find to be a frustrating business. When it lands on a flowerhead to sup nectar it never appears to 'settle'. Its wing tips are forever quivering as though nervously ready to make a quick departure. So it is a blessing when one is attracted to light and calmly settles down for the night.

The distinctive 'Y' mark is easy to identify - but it is not unique to the Silver Y. Several other species carry similar marks and some care is needed to eliminate them.

It comes in various shade of brown, from cool grey-brown, through warm mid-brown tones to the dark chestnut seen here, which was so crisply marked that I suspect it was recently emerged from pupation.

Wing position also varies from widespread, slightly elevated and quivering when feeding, to the 'arrowhead' and tightly folded 'tent' shapes shown here. The lower image showing the hair tufts that protrude from the thorax and abdomen.

It is a multi-generation species, having been recorded in every month of the year. And many individuals may well be migrants from Europe.

The larvae are to be found on many common plants from bedstraws, nettles and clovers to garden peas, beans and cabbage.

20.06.2006 Flew indoors attracted to the kitchen lights.
24.07.2007 Attracted to light.
29.05.2008 Day flying in Hay Meadow.
16.09.2008 Attracted to a lighted window.
17.07. - 27.09.2014 Attracted to a lighted window.

Mother Shipton

Mother Shipton

Callistege mi

The Mother Shipton is named after an old Yorkshire witch because of the caricature of an old hag's hooked nose, piercing eye and pointed chin that can be seen (if you use your imagination) on the moth's forewing. With a forewing length of about 15mm it is not a large moth but, whether you can see the likeness or not, it is unmistakeable because of its unique markings.

It is a day-flying moth, on the wing from May to July in the UK but with two generations in continental Europe. Curiously, it is not common in the Channel Islands.

The larvae feed from July to September on a wide range of clovers and trefoils and also Cock's-foot grass.

15.05.2003 Found mid-afternoon in bright sunshine on Protected Roadside Verge.
10.06.2007 Found in bright evening sunshine in hay meadow.

The Snout moth The Snout moth

The Snout

Hypena proboscidalis

The Snout really lives up to its common name. It has two long mouth parts (palps - sensory organs used for 'tasting' nectar sources) which stick out like an upturned nose. Many moths have palps but none so exaggerated as in the Snout. This feature, a forewing length of up to 19mm and a broad triangular wingspan of about 33mm at rest (the second generation tends to be smaller) and its gently hooked wingtips make it one of the easier moths to identify.

South of Midland England it produces two generations a year flying June to mid August and late August to October giving it a relatively long flight 'window'. In the rest of the UK, only one generation is produced, flying June to August.

Although it generally flies at dusk, it is easily disturbed from vegetation during the day and so is not an uncommon sight.

The larvae feed nocturnally on the common Stinging nettle, hiding during the day between folded leaves. Second generation larvae will overwinter and pupation takes place in a cocoon spun between the nettle leaves.

21.06.2003 Daylight sighting in Hawthorn hedge containing nettles.
22.06.2003 Daylight sighting, 25m from previous sighting.
09.09.2003 Attracted to light.
27.07.2006 Attracted to light.
06.07.2007 Disturbed from stinging nettles.
17.06. - 17.07.20141st 2014 generation attracted to light.
02.10.20142nd 2014 generation attracted to light.

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