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Moths of the month: September 2013

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.

Slender-striped Rufous (R Leverton)

Slender-striped Rufous Coenocalpe lapidata

September into October.

Damp upland pasture and moorland.

Slender-striped Rufous is one of the scarcer Scottish specialities, widely distributed in the Highlands but with a western bias. Given the amount of apparently suitable habitat it is surprisingly local and rarely numerous.

Although its caterpillar has yet to be found in the wild, buttercup is the likely foodplant based on captive rearing.

Females are partially diurnal in dry weather, with an afternoon flight. Moths soon become bleached and faded, losing much of the rufous tint of newly emerged examples.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Golden-rod Brindle (R Leverton)

Golden-rod Brindle Lithomoia solidaginis

Mid August through September.

Upland moorland.

This is another widespread yet local species in our region, found on good quality upland moorland but tending to avoid coastal areas.

Despite both its scientific and vernacular names, this moth has no connection with the eponymous plant. Heather, bilberry and other moorland shrubs are the caterpillar's foodplants.

The adult rests openly, with wings tightly furled around its body so that it resembles a bit of dead twig or even a grouse dropping. It seems to have become scarcer in recent years.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

The Gem (R Leverton)

The Gem Orthonoma obstipata

Migrant, usually in late autumn.

May turn up anywhere

This wind-drifted migrant from the Mediterranean is regular in southern Britain but increasingly scarce northwards, though it can reach the Outer Hebrides and Shetland. Most sightings are at light.

Unusually for the 'carpet' subfamily, male and female are very different in colour and pattern. Only the female has the white-ringed discal spot that gives The Gem its common name.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Small Autumnal Moth (R Leverton)

Small Autumnal Moth Epirrita filigrammaria

Mid August through September.

Heather moorland.

Small Autumnal Moth is recognised as a species only in Britain, where it seems genuinely distinct from the slightly larger and later Autumnal Moth E. autumnata (see October series). The latter occurs in birch and alder woodland, whereas the former is associated with open heather moorland.

Adults rest low down in the heather, also on rocks and fence posts. However, they are most easily found at night, sitting quietly on the vegetation with wings closed butterfly-fashion, forming a conspicuous pale triangle in the torchlight.

Click on the image to enlarge it.


Crinan Ear (R Leverton)

Crinan Ear Amphipoea crinanensis

August to early October.

Marshes, wetlands, other damp grassland.

This species was only separated from the other very similar 'ears' in 1908, with the type specimens coming from the Crinan Canal. Its flight period is fractionally the latest of our four species, though with a big overlap.

Characteristic examples can be recognised by their short wings and finely 'pencilled' crosslines, but genitalic examination is often required for certainty.

Crinan Ear is often active by day and can be found nectaring at Devil's-bit Scabious where populations are high.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

View other months

January - February




November - December

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 | July | August | September

2018: May | June

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