Friday 29 July 2022

When Moths Are Not Moths

This post is basically a load of moth pics from the last few days. The variety in size, shape, colour, form and texture continues to blow my little mind...

Iron Prominent, new for the garden.

Clouded Silver - not our first, but I don't think I've got any earlier pics.

Maiden's Blush, another first for the garden. I doubt it's vernacular name would make a short-list of options in 2022! A delicate and beautiful little moth.

Yponomeuta evonymella (Bird-cherry Ermine). With its five rows of dots, one of the more easily-identifiable ermines, and another garden first.

Bryotropha terrella - roughly 8mm of dowdy dullness

Bryoptropha affinis - approx 6mm. Another one that got a rough deal in the looks department.

A 5mm enigma, this one remains unidentified. My efforts led me to Ocnerostoma friesei, a species which mines the needles of Scots Pine. Dorset records appear thin on the ground, and I don't know if there any at all locally. I'm not surprised. Scots Pine is hardly abundant around here. Of course, it could be something else entirely, something I've overlooked. But to progress the ID any further I would probably need to put it in the hands of an expert, and frankly I lose interest at that point...

Canary-shouldered Thorn. The first of four over the past few days. Wild yellow fluff-ball. And those antennae...!

Sallow Kitten, another garden first. An object lesson in how to enhance a monochrome pattern with a magical sprinkling of bright orange speckles. Gorgeous.

The Gothic. Our second, but the first was extremely worn. This one is much better.

The Engrailed. Subtle and lovely.

The highlight of this morning's catch. A female Oak Eggar. Just awesome!

What a moth!

And this one's not bad either! Dusky Thorn, another garden first.

The preceding photos illustrate a typical spectrum of moth types that might be encountered in an average night's catch. Some are easy to identify, some are really not. Small, dowdy little micros fall into the latter category. But I have been surprised at how useful the Obsidentify app can be, if it's given a decent photo to work with. So when I extracted a feathery 5mm speck from this morning's egg box array, I took the following photo...

...and ran it through Obsidentify.

As per usual it gave me an identification very quickly, and I was chuffed to see a confidence rating of 80-odd percent. Hydroptila sparsa, it said. Not a name that rang any bells, and to my surprise I couldn't find it in the moth books. Still, scientific names do change from time to time, so I googled it. Yep, the internet photos matched. There was no doubt about the ID of my moth. Trouble is, my 'moth' was a micro-caddis!

I still have so much to learn.


  1. Now that you point it out, I can see that Hydroptila sparsa has caddis-like antennae. But I'm sure I wouldn't have spotted it.

    1. Yep, the antennae should have rung alarm bells. But I didn't notice them until afterwards!

  2. I'll stop reading your moth blogs when I stop being impressed.... keep it up Gav.

    1. And I'll stop writing them ditto. 😄
      Cheers Dave.