Tuesday, 4 November 2014

M.M.A.B.P - Micro Moth Appreciation Blog Post!

Refered to quite simply as: the Micros.

I'm not quite sure why I felt the need to write this up, but if you are one who enjoys the seemingly endless array of Lepidoptera that we have in the UK, then you will most likely also have (believe it, or not!), an appreciation for the Micros amongst them.
Likewise, if you're not a Micro fan, or not even much of a moth fan in general, then maybe you'll just scroll down this page, taking a quick glance as you go and at the very least, think to yourself - "actually, they're pretty damn nice!"

I'll be the first to admit, that although I always loosely enjoyed moths, when I really got into it a couple years back, I would avoid the "little ones" like the plague! My macro ID skills without a book, were limited to a Brimstone, Herald and a Small Magpie so the thought of even trying to ID any micros was laughable! It was a natural progression though, that as I could ID more and more of the Macro moths, either with or without a field guide, that curiosity that simmers in the psyche of all naturalists, showed itself and I just...well... needed to know what they were!
As you start giving them more time and appreciating the colours and detail that a lot of the micros have, that curiosity just can't be contained! Of course, as with macros and indeed, other invertebrates, there are plain and indistinct examples which would barely catch your eye, HOWEVER - the ones that aren't are straight up wonders of a tiny world! Surrounding us most of the time, yet hardly noticed without an effort to purposely seek them out.

I've chosen a few of my photos (quite a few, really!), to show below and hopefully they will share my enthusiasm for Micros without me babbling on for too much longer. Although most guides bare just the Latin names for the micros, and I tend to only use the Latin, the common names are out there and I will include them with the photos as the Latin doesn't go down well with everyone and can take a little longer to digest. Some of them are rather creative though!
If you are curious to know the common name to any micros you have ID'd, I'd recommend a quick search on the NBN Gateway website. Also very good for listing the common names of micros is the Norfolk Moths website.

So, on to some fine examples from the micro world!
One of the first micros I ever ID'd is still a favourite of mine and is known for its resting position of standing up on its front legs at quite an angle. That, along with just being really rather pretty, is the Rosy Tabby - Endotricha flammealis...
Rosy Tabby - Endotricha flammealis
the typical resting position the species is known for.

 Another 'Tabby' I'm fond off is a little more subtle yet still rather smart. If I could though, I would change its common name to 'Chocolate Orange!' (it just springs to mind with the colours!)
Double-striped Tabby - Orthopygia glaucinalis

This one you will recognise as a celebrity micro, as it features on the front cover of Sterling, Parsons & Lewingtons' Field Guide to the Micro moths of Great Britain and Ireland. I real highlighter pen amongst pencils, is Carcina quercana, the Long-horned Flat-body:
Long-horned Flat-bodyCarcina quercana

Although not having as many colours as quercana, the Hook-marked Straw Moth (Agapeta hamana) is equally as bright:
Hook-marked Straw Moth - Agapeta hamana

This next moth is another of the firsts, whos name actually stuck in my brain and it's presence in the UK is thought to be down it hitching a lift in plants, from Australia! The common name not as attractive as the actual moth, in this instance:
Ruddy Streak - Tachystola acroxantha (on £1 coin for scale)

Now for a couple of 'Fanners'. Both of these disturbed whilst walking through long grass and in good numbers. A fine example of being overlooked as this micro really is small, but if you stop and get a close look, you can see the beauty:
Speckled Fanner - Glyphipterix thrasonella
A bit unfair to call the next one Plain, as it's actually Gold all over and not cardboard box brown as first appearances suggest:
Plain Fanner - Glyphipterix fuscoviridella

While we're looking at the smaller of the micro moths, I can't ignore the next few. All truly tiny and only really appreciated with a magnifying glass or macro lens, a few of the 'Argents':
Triple-barred Argent - Argyresthia trifasciata
Gold-ribbon Argent - Argyresthia brockeella
Golden ArgentArgyresthia goedartella

Knot-horns. No, that's not some kind of Viking medical condition, but a nice group of micros that, with the exception of one below, are not as loud but are rather detailed.

Grey Knot-horn - Trachycera advenella
Ash-bark Knot-horn - Euzophera pinguis
Beautiful Knot-horn - Rhodophaea (Pempelia) formosa
Rosy-striped Knot-horn - Oncocera semirubella

Rosy-striped Knot-horn - Oncocera semirubella

Be it birds or moths, migrants and vagrants always make that grin grow a little bigger when you set eyes upon one. Knowing that they have come from god knows where, and travelled well beyond what we would be capable of, if we were a matter of milimeters wide, is surely nothing short of a wonder in the natural world. One of the migrant highlights for me this year was Cydia amplana with the very apt common name of Vagrant Piercer. Not known to actively breed in the UK, this little trooper of moth most often visits the South coast, in particular, Dorset and was only first recorded in 1990, which, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty darn recent.

Vagrant Piercer - Cydia amplana

Another micro moth known for its migratory behaviour and more commonly found, is the Diamond-back Moth - Plutella xylostella. There is a fascinating article HERE, which explains what research has been done to study the high altitude migration of Diamond-backs in the UK. Very interesting and incredible to imagine something so small joining us in our moth traps, after a trip from mainland Europe. Hats off to Plutella xylostella, I say!
Diamond-back Moth - Plutella xylostella

Diamond-back Moth - Plutella xylostella

Last of the few migrants I wanted to show is without doubt, one of the most elegant moths I've had the pleasure to catch:
Olive-tree Pearl - Palpita vitrealis

Tubics, anyone?..
A couple of lookers here, you'd have to wonder why it is so difficult to see these flying around:
Sulphur Tubic - Esperia sulphurella
New Tawny Tubic - Batia lunaris

New Tawny Tubic - Batia lunaris

On the contrary, these next few aim to do the opposite of the 'Tubics' and be as inconspicuous as possible. The aim is camouflage and more specifically, to look like bird droppings when resting in the open, or on foliage. Evolution at its best, if you ask me:
Acorn Piercer - Pammene fasciana
Birch Marble - Apotomis betuletana
Bud Moth - Spilonota ocellana
Little Conch - Cochylis dubitana
Poplar Shoot - Gypsonoma oppressana
Triple-blotched Bell - Notocelia (Epiblema) trimaculana

As tough as they can be to ID, I though it only fair to add a couple of the Plume moths. What they lack in bright colours, they make up for with intricate detail. I like 'em!
Beautiful Plume - Amblyptilia acanthadactyla

Yarrow Plume - Platyptilia pallidactyla

Just for comparison, I wanted to show a selection of the Grass moths (Crambidae) - in particular, the Grass Veneers. Wandering through most meadows and fields at the right time of year, will disturb literally thousands of these, which inevitably all look the same as they fly off away the size 10's! Again, the variation is remarkable when studied up close. Here are a few:
Chequered Grass-veneer - Catoptria falsella

Elbow-stripe Grass-veneer - Agriphila geniculea

Hook-streaked Grass-Veneer - Crambus lathoniellus

Inlaid Grass-veneer - Crambus pascuella

Pale-streak Grass-veneer - Agriphila selasella

Pearl Grass-veneer - Catoptria pinella

Yellow Satin Veneer - Crambus perlella f. warringtonellus

Lastly, here's a little collection that are here because - I.just.like.them!

Bramble Shoot Moth - Epiblema uddmanniana

Bramble Shoot Moth - Epiblema uddmanniana

Ok, so this is a 'little brown job' of sorts, but I love the patterning on it and it has a great common name too:

Bulrush Cosmet - Limnaecia phragmitella

A little Codling moth, nothing much from afar but the blotch that covers the apex corner of the forewing has such a metallic shine to it, looks almost like real metal:

Codling Moth - Cydia pomonella

No matter how many of these fly around the MV light in the garden, I can't help but still catch them for another look. A cracking, show-off of a moth:

Gold Triangle - Hypsopygia costalis

A tad more on the subtle side of things but again, I do like the detail:

Hoary Belle - Eucosma cana

These two caused me a bit of a headache before realising they are in fact, the same species but in different colour forms:

Marbled Piercer - Cydia splendana (dark form)

Marbled Piercer - Cydia splendana (light form)

This example has been through the mill a bit but the distinct shape to wing is worth a look and with another common name to fit the description:

Notch-wing Button - Acleris emargana
What a great common name:
Pied Smudge - Ypsolopha sequella

This was a nice find this year and a first for the garden too. It favours Teasel and I don't think a coincidence that this year was the first year, Teasel had been planted. If you build it, they will come?..perhaps?
Rosy Conch - Cochylis roseana

Very lastly, the Twenty-plume moth. The wings remind me of arrow feathers and to look at you could wonder how it gets airborne!

Twenty-plume Moth - Alucita hexadactyla

Thanks for hanging in there. If you do like micros, then I hope you enjoyed. If you still dont like micros, I hope you can at least appreciate them in their own, frustrating, hard-to-ID, headache giving way ;)