Friday, 21 August 2009

More mothy musings

More moths and nocturnal goings-on from the safari. This time featuring extreme photographs from our man with the lens, Raf.
In the darkness by torchlight we had this one down as Dark Marbled Carpet only to discover it hasn't been recorded in lowland Lancashire for many years. So is it just a dark Common Marbled Carpet. Guess where the ID features are...the underside patternation...guess which bit we never photograph on moths...yep you got it. Fingers crossed we are right but we'll probably never know

The best way to tell Svensson's Copper Underwing from an 'ordinary' Copper Underwing is by genital dissection. I don't think they had Frank's canine teeth in mind as the tool for the's one he chobbled at. Not a definitive dissection but the underwing pattern points to ordinary, the copper band is straight and doesn't appear to extend up into the wing base.Some of the moths were only small, the dreaded Micro moths. Its hard enough getting to grips with Macros never mind the tiny stuff. This one was readily ID'd as a Plume moth and pinned down to Amblyptlia puntidactyla. That's one of the biggest problems with the Micros (along with their size and number), most don't have easy English names.
This beautiful little fella goes by the extensive name, Ysolopha sequella, his name is longer than he is!

In the field guide this specimen stuck out a mile, there was nothing really approaching it. There was a choice of one other but it would have been a long shot. The field guide, however, doesn't show every species so we thought there could be something similar in the genus that wasn't illustrated. Why were we concerned? In the book it described the habitat as being mountain moorland or acid heathland with the foodplant as Swan Necked Moss (never heard of it) but it's a long way for those little wings to fly from the nearest given habitat. So what was it? It was what we thought it was Catoptria margaritella. Just to confuse an already confusing issue it is known to wander into different habitats far from where it is supposed to live - now why didn't it say that in the book.
It's not only moths that are attracted to light. We had a huge number of Crane Flies, a Water Boatman (front swimming Notonecta) from the nearby pond, a few beetles and this Forest Bug - told from the horribly similar Sloe Bug by its pointy shoulders rather than softly rounded. More Alexis Carrington than Forrest Gump!

A Common Froghopper clanged into the lamp with almost enough force to crack it. This shot was taken a millisecond begfore it jumped.
Not all the visitors were welcome as this Mosquito, Theobaldia annulata I think, that is full of its recent blood meal shows. Don't know which one of us this one bit but we are all covered in large red itchy weals. Why does it need pied legs?

Where to next? If the Dark Marbled Carpet pic proves to be inconclusive we'll have to brave the mozzies and reset the trap to try to get another for an underside shot.
In the meantime let us know what is out there biting in your outback.


Monika said...

What an amazing variety of moths! I haven't had much luck with butterflies but moths seem to be all over the place. That might have to be my next mini-safari, right out to the front porch light if nothing else!

Lancs and Lakes Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Nice one Monika - moths are cool and patience identifying them is a virtue! Good hunting.