Sunday, 14 August 2011

No it was a mariposa nocturna LEOPARDO...

Sorry, or disculparse as i believe they say in Spain. As Nick Tanner kindly pointed out yesterday in the Comments, my exciting featured foreign moth was a Leopard, not a Puss. It's another fine species that I've yet to see, although it's found in Yorkshire according to my faithful trinity of advisers, Messrs Waring, Townsend and Lewington.

It also has an excellent caterpillar; not as extraordinary as the Puss Moth's, but one of the best of the 'wooly bears'. Here's a picture, courtesy of Dave's Garden. Btw my moth Bible makes me feel slightly better about yet another identification bungle, because in its invaluable 'Similar Species' category, it brackets the Leopard with the Puss. On the other hand, I have admit that it doesn't take a genius to tell them apart.

Here's the adult Puss Moth, just to show you the difference with yesterday's Leopard. Thanks to Wikipedia. I wonder if battleship 'dazzle' camouflage artists used it as a reference. Or Bridget Riley, the op/pop-artist. In all three cases, the swirls and zigzags of black and white have a disorientating effect on the human eye. I'd guess the same goes for Puss Moth-hunting birds.

It will probably play havoc with my attempts at blog design, but here are a couple of examples of dazzle and Riley - the Aircraft-carrier HMS Argus in 1918 and Riley in front of one of her works in the swinging Sixties (ahhh...I remember them well).

Anyway, I lit the trap again last night for the first time in over a week, and was rewarded by this fine pair of visitors. Both pose legitimate identification problems as the Gold Spot, which I think this is, is so similar to the Lempke's Gold Spot that W,T & L use the dread phrase 'genitalia should be examined for confirmation.' The Swallow and Lesser Swallow Prominents are also evilly alike. I think this one is a Lesser.

Lempke's Gold Spot? Barend J Lempke is or was a Dutch entomolgist of some distinction. I suspect 'was' as most of his identifications seem to have been in the 1950s. More when my mastery of Google and Dutch improve. Het splijt mij, as they say in Holland.


richard said...

Hi Martin,
The larva in your photo is that of a Great Leopard Moth which is not a European species.

MartinWainwright said...

Oh whoops once more. Thanks very much Richard. I'll find a pic of the correct one...

Hoping I'm going to find a Puss Moth caterpillar one day, if only as a reward for all this travail...