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Moths of the month: June 2017

This is a monthly series illustrating several characteristic moths to look out for in our area. Text and photos by Roy Leverton.

You can also view the other months by selecting the links at the bottom of this page.

   
Peacock Moth (R Leverton)

Peacock Moth Macaria notata

Mid May into July.

Open birch woodland.

Presumably this moth obtained its English name because its shape vaguely recalls that of the Peacock butterfly, but there are no other similarities. Unlike the butterfly, the moth is cryptically coloured, resembling a pale dead leaf. It rests amongst foliage, especially that of its foodplant, birch, but is easily disturbed into flight during the daytime.

This species has a curiously disjointed distribution in Britain, being found in southern England and south Wales, then again in Scotland north of the central belt, with a big gap in between. In the Highlands it is mainly western. After an increase in numbers and some spread in recent years it now gets into western Banffshire, but is still absent from apparently ideal habitat in Aberdeenshire.

Click on the image to enlarge it.


Incurvaria oehimanniella (R Leverton)

Incurvaria oehlmanniella

June

Moorland, scrub, sometimes gardens.

The natural foodplants of this striking little micro-moth are given in the literature as bilberry and cloudberry, but in my garden it seems to be associated with fruit bushes such as gooseberry and raspberry.

The guide books mention little about the adult’s behaviour, but it seems to be diurnal, as this mating pair found on my garden shed shows.

Click on the image to enlarge it.


Pale Brindled Beauty larva (R Leverton)

Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria

Larva fully fed in June.

Woodland, parkland, gardens.

The adult often emerges in January, so usually this is my first moth of the new year if hibernating species are excluded. Like others that emerge at this season, the female is flightless, and when her eggs hatch the larvae must disperse on silk threads that catch the breeze.

Given the uncertainty of this method of dispersal, Pale Brindled Beauty has by necessity a very wide range of foodplants, being able to feed on almost any deciduous tree or shrub. Likewise, the caterpillar is a generalised twig mimic, best distinguished from others in the Ennominae subfamily by the prominent warts each bearing a single bristle. Despite its camouflage, feeding damage betrays its presence, making it a frequent find in June.

Click on the image to enlarge it.


Shoulder-striped Wainscot (R Leverton)

Shoulder-striped Wainscot Leucania comma

June into August.

Dry lowland grassland.

In our region, Shoulder-striped Wainscot is an eastern species, well-distributed in the Inner Moray Firth but far less frequent further west. Perhaps its most favoured habitat is grassy sand dunes as at Findhorn, but even here it is never a numerous moth. Away from the coast it is far less frequent, turning up as occasional singletons at long intervals.

Judging by its wing pattern, the adult probably rests by day amongst fine-leaved wiry grasses, but the chances of finding it are low. Most records are from light traps, or occasionally at sugar.

Click on the image to enlarge it.


Narrow-winged Pug (R Leverton)

Narrow-winged Pug Eupithecia nanata

May to August.

Heather moorland.

This is one of the more distinctive of the many pugs, with a well-marked pattern of white and dark grey alternating stripes across its narrow forewings. Despite its specific name of dwarf (nanus) it is of average size for this group.

Almost any heather moorland is sure to have this species. Heather and heath Erica are its only foodplants. Its surprisingly long flight period (apparently as one single extended brood) gives plenty of opportunity for recording it even on daytime visits. The adult is easily disturbed from the heather, and also rests on fence posts, but once in flight it is soon swept away by the breeze unless the day is calm.

Click on the image to enlarge it.


View other months

January - February

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April

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2008: May | June | July | August | September

2009: May | June | July | August | September

2010: May | June | July | August | September

2011: May | June | July | August | September

2012: May | June | July | August | September

2013: May | June | July | August | September

2014: May | June | July | August | September

2015: May | June | July | August | September

2016: May | June | July | August | September

2017: May | June |

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