Monday 25 July 2022

Another Scarce Moth

A significant mothy milestone was passed today: 250 species from the garden trap. Three new ones this morning brought the total to 252 in fact. Perhaps it's no big deal in this location, but I am nevertheless pretty gobsmacked to have clocked up such a tally in less than two months. Many have become familiar friends, but a high proportion have been one-offs. A few have even been quite scarce, and another in that category features later in the post. But first, some hairy beasts...

Swallow Prominent, from yesterday's catch...

...and a Pebble Prominent this morning.

It was great that both the above were in pristine condition, and behaved impeccably in the studio. I am getting a huge buzz from photographing some of these spectacular insects, and this pair illustrate why. There is only so much you can take in at the time, but perusing a photo at leisure really brings home how intricately constructed they are. And beautiful, of course.

A fortuitous capture this morning was both spectacles. By which I mean Spectacle and Dark Spectacle. We've had Spectacle a couple of times before, but Dark Spectacle was new. I found the differences quite subtle...

Dark Spectacle


Side by side - Spectacle on the left.

The Spectacle's spectacles.

And so, to this mornings scarce moth...

This was a whole different experience to the double-Orache epic related in the previous post. Admittedly, the protagonist was a tad less eye-popping (and less rare) but still...

Actually, the whole thing demonstrates how a complete novice goes about discovering that he's caught  something better than average in the completely flukey, ham-fisted way that novices do.

First, I potted this tiny blip of a thing that was clinging to one of the egg trays. Just 5mm or so in length, but I realised it was something I hadn't seen before. It held its wings in an odd, arms-akimbo kind of fashion. In fact I wasn't even sure it was a moth. The hand lens revealed feathery fringes to the wings, but even some caddis fly types have that. I took a rubbish photo and ran it through the Obsidentify app, which gave me Tebenna micalis, at a 50-something percent confidence rating. I googled Tebenna micalis, expecting it to come back as some kind of fly. To my astonishment it was a moth. And not just any moth. According to UK Moths:

...a scarce migrant to the southern counties, and transitory resident.

And it would seem there are not that many Dorset records. I took some better photos and sent them through to a very experienced moth chap. His opinion was positive, but it awaits 'official' verification. In the meantime, I give you Tebenna micalis...

Tebenna micalis. It is a bit worn, and therefore not at its best. If it were, I can assure you that you would be suitably blown away.

Stunner, eh?

In all seriousness, you need to click on this link on the Dorset Moths website to see Tebenna micalis at its glorious best, which ain't half bad actually.

The studio session did not go well, and there was a calamitous disaster which I shan't go into. Suffice to say, the above pics are the best I have.

As an aside, I will briefly mention what a drag it is to learn and remember a load of scientific names. Which is why I have typed Tebenna micalis several times through this post, in the vain hope that the name of this scarce little moth might actually stick.


  1. This is great stuff Gav. I'm now wondering; as you are, how many more surprises will emerge from among the egg boxes of a morning?

    1. So far we haven't had a night without at least one new species, and a good number have been big surprises. Long may it continue! 😄

  2. It's Christmas everyday in Bridport, another great find. I can't help thinking that, end on, the swallow prominent looks quite spider-like. Defensive camouflage maybe?

    1. Yes, pretty amazing beast, isn't it? The extent of variety in construction and engineering across the whole spectrum of moths is simply staggering.