Sunday, 26 August 2012

Copper belt

After yesterday's bungling, I am on safer ground this morning with the Copper Underwing. Except... Let me quote to you from the three wise men, Messrs Townsend, Waring and Lewington:

The two British species of copper underwing are very similar. The most reliable way to separate them is to examine the underside of the hindwing. This can be done on an anaesthetised live moth (see Introduction for further details).

No, I don't think I am going to do that. So this is either a Copper Underwing or a Svensson's Copper Underwing, the latter being a moth which, again according to TW&L, has 'become more frequent in Yorkshire in recent years.'

The two species were separated in 1968 by an entomologist called Fletcher, although Svensson's seems to have received its own Linnaean name in 1949 from another scientist called Rung. Who were these people and who was Svensson? I don't yet know but I intend to find out. I am often surprised at how hard it is to find out about the history of such things, even with the mighty assistance of Google.  After yesterday's Sallow blunders, I will research patiently and see what else I can discover, but this may take some time.

I have also failed, so far, to persuade a Copper Underwing to show me its underwing, let alone the underneath of its underwing. As you can see from the picture above, their main intention when the trap is opened is to scurry into the nearest dark nook. But here below is a very battered yellow underwing - a Lesser Broad-bordered, I think - which was less modest.

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