Saturday, 4 August 2012

The silver arrow - Olympic moths 2

Behold the second in my Olympic series: a silver (well, silver-ish) moth with a definite 'Higher, faster, better etc' gleam in its pallid green eye. Click on the pic to see that eye more closely.

This is the micro Catoptria falsella whose engaging habits include burrowing (as a caterpillar) deep into moss on the roofs of buildings and munching away at the said moss until it is time to pupate.

The Penny Wainwright Pencil Scale shows how small it is; but this other silver contender is even smaller as you can see. I am puzzling over a number of possibilities for its identity as per usual. Is it one of the Phyllonorycters? Or another tiny beast whose Linnean second name would please children; nanana? To emphasise its tiny-ness, here it is again, exchanging gossip with a Common Footman, a pretty small macro moth itself.

Update: many thanks to wise and welcome commentator Robert Homan who has nailed it as Phyllonorycter geniculella which isn't in my Micro-moth Bible. I must find out why later on, but it is too sunny now. The moth was named as long ago as 1874 by someone called Ragonot. I couldn't find out more about them on a quick Googling, but I did discover that there is a woman bodybuilder in Washington called Brenda Ragonot.

Finally here is a pug from the trap which I am also tracking down. I include it because it looks as I would do, should I be foolish enough to enter an Olympic race of any kind.

Update: pug my foot. Once again, Wainwright blunders. As Stewart, another wise and welcome commentor, suggests, this is another micro and it is in the Bible. It's Eudonia mercurella and like the silver star at the top, its caterpillar lives deep in moss and munches its surroundings.


R Homan said...

Hello Martin

I think your very smart Phyllonorycter is P. geniculella - feeds on Sycamore.


Robert Homan, Cheltenham, Glos..

MartinWainwright said...

Thanks so much- I'm sure you're right. I wonder why it isn't in the fab new micros guide - maybe the text explains somewhere, I'll check tonight. There's a lovely pic of one on UK Moths.

All warm wishes and thanks


Stewart said...

Hi Martin, your 'pug' is one of the micro's in the Eudonia family, but which one I cant help I'm afraid...Maybe mercurella?

MartinWainwright said...

Thanks so much Stewart. I've just had a look in the Bible and I am sure you are right. I will update straight away. Many thanks again and all warm wishes, Martin