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ID Tips for new moth'ers (1 Viewer)

Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
Let's see if this gets off the ground. The idea here is to bring to attention some of the frequently asked species, particularly micros and tricky pairs or groups of species. Hopefully this will cut down on the number of requests for help on commonly occurring species.
 

Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
1424 Endotricha flammealis

I'll kick off with a cracking little micro that proves that these small moths can have bags of character.

The most distinctive thing about this common pyralid is the way it sits high on its front legs. The shape with gently S-shaped edge to the forewing and attractive reddish patterning add to the picture.

It is common at light throughout July and August and has a wingsspan of about 20mm.
 

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Reader

Well-known member
Thanks Brian

I don't know how much will stick but I will try and keep up with your tips.
 

Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
Juniper Webber Dichomeris marginella

I hope others including those of us who have only been mothing for a year or two will share some of the things we have learned and the moths that flumoxed us when we first saw them but are familiar now.

Here's another distinctive micro that had me going when I first came across it and should be appearing any day now. It looks like it ought to be a pyralid, as it looks a bit like some of the grass moths (crambids), but it is a gelechid. The two white stripes edging the wings and the white stripe over the top of the head and all the way along the long palps coupled with the overall cigar shaped look are unmistakable.

About 8mm long and flying in July and August.
 

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Surreybirder

Ken Noble
I've never had Dichomeris marginella so that's clearly one to look out for!

At a more basic level, there are some micros that are on the large size and it's easy to waste a lot of time looking through a macro guide for them. Apart from small magpie, which has featured recently, mother of pearl and Phlyctaenia coronata are examples.
Of course the opposite is also true. Rosy marbled could easily be dismissed as a micro.
Ken
 

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WillyB1

Active member
Thanks Brian,
This is a great idea. I'll add a pic but you'll need to identify it for us.
 

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Surreybirder

Ken Noble
Identifying N. American butterflies from below is asking a lot of Europeans! Perhaps one of your compatriots will be able to help.
Ken
 

Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
Surreybirder said:
Apart from small magpie, which has featured recently, mother of pearl and Phlyctaenia coronata are examples.
:clap:
Spot on Ken! I was sent a pic from a non-mothing friend this morning of a moth found in his conservatory. It was Phlyctaenia coronata!
 

Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
Small macros: flimsy footmen

Surreybirder said:
Rosy marbled could easily be dismissed as a micro.

Another pair that could be mistaken for micros are two flimsy little moths in the Footman family. Both have broad, stubby, rounded wings with fairly indistict brownish markings. At 10mm long or less and with thin, papery texture to the wings they are rather delicate.

2035 Round-winged Muslin Thumatha senex: Jul-Aug mainly near marshy areas.

2038 Muslin Footman Nudaria mundana: Jun-Aug almost anywhere, but generally scarce.
 

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hkmoths

ex Warwickshire moth'er
WillyB1 said:
Thanks Brian,
This is a great idea. I'll add a pic but you'll need to identify it for us.

Hi WillyB1

Looking at Robert Pyle's Field Guide to North American Butterflies (Auduboon Society, 1981 - the 1988 reprint) I offer the Hackberry Butterfly as a possible i.d. (fig. 664 & text pp. 653-655) - the scientific name given is Asterocampa celtis
One web link (of many found on Google) - http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/lepid/bflyusa/usa/36.htm
The photo you give makes the decision difficult as many of the wing's patterns are obscured by the leaf and the translucent lighting makes the ventral wing pattern appear darker than it actually is.

Hope this helps,

Roger.
 

hkmoths

ex Warwickshire moth'er
more tips - Crambidae, Pyralidae & Dichomeris

brianhstone said:
Let's see if this gets off the ground. The idea here is to bring to attention some of the frequently asked species, particularly micros and tricky pairs or groups of species. Hopefully this will cut down on the number of requests for help on commonly occurring species.

Hi Brian - this thread needs a sticky!!

Some further pointers

1) Pyralidae & Crambidae - in resting posture check out the way the antennae are held. Almost all species in these families rest with antennae over the abdomen, pointing to the end of the abdomen or slightly each side. This is clearly seen in the Mother of Pearl photo earlier in the thread.​
2) Dichomeris species - the labial palps have the first and second segment like a forward pointing brush, with the third segment coming out upwards from near the front, almost like a bent pin sticking up. Gelechiidae in general usually have very obvious upturned and/or long labial palps, usually slender.​
hope these help a little.

cheers,

Roger.
 
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Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
Copper Underwings

Thanks for the detail Roger. If anyone is uncertain what labial palps are this should help.

Various ways to separate the two UK Copper Underwings (Amphipyra pyramidea and A. berbera) appear in the books but none are that easy or conclusive. I personally find upper forewing differences subtle and inconclusive. Examining the extent of orange on the underside of the forewing is tricky and subjective, and in any case is only a guide.

Mike Wall brought the following reliable feature to our attention last year and since then I have found it easy to check every specimen quickly. The reference for the relevant paper is BR. J. ENT. NAT. HIST, 1:1988 p97-98. An Additional Aid to the Identification of.......by P. Q. Winter. UKmoths members can read it at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ukmoths/files/00_Misc/.

The labial palps are the two prongs than protrude from the mouth area of a moth's head. They are in fact modified mouth parts. In these two species the palps are large and turn sharply upwards to a point. These can be seen well enough with the naked eye given good eyesight and are very clear under a hand lens (or inverted binoculars held close).

On Svennson's Copper Underwing Amphipyra berbera the palps are largely black with a few pale scales mainly near the base. The very pale tips stand out clearly from the rest of the palps.

On Copper Underwing Amphipyra pyramidea the palps have pale scales densly coating the entire front surface right to the tip making the front of the palps look unformly pale. Consequently the pale tips do not stand out from the rest of the palps when viewed from the front.

Copper Underwing flies earlier in the year (from now on) but both are on the wing together during Aug and Sep at least and are common at light and sugar. I have found them particularly numerous at sugar with both species on the same food.

The attached photos are not brilliant (particularly the one of the pyramidea upperside taken with flash). They show the upperside and palps with pyramidea first in each case.
 

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Angus T

Well-known member
Achroia grisella (Lesser Wax Moth)

This one had me totally stumped last year.
I never even considered it to be a pyralid.
About 10mm long, doesn't come to light much, but is mostly likely seen in July/Aug although I've recorded it in beehive as an adult in late November.



Another large Pyralid not featured on pg 13 in Waring is Garden Pebble.

Anyone have photo?
 

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Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
Garden Pebble

Best I can manage I'm afraid. Can't find a side shot.

Edit: Added side shot.
 

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Surreybirder

Ken Noble
I spent quite some time trying to decide which 'pyralid' the attached small yellow underwing was ;)
Whereas Hypsopygia costalis and Pyrausta aurata really are micros.
Ken
 

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Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
Have a guess

Usually the first thing you look at is the upperside of the forewing. However it is not always the most diagnostic area. So new mothers, can you tell what this is from this angle?
 

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Surreybirder

Ken Noble
brianhstone said:
Usually the first thing you look at is the upperside of the forewing. However it is not always the most diagnostic area. So new mothers, can you tell what this is from this angle?
Looking at the name of the photo gives a good clue!
Ken
 

Steve Lister

Senior Birder, ex County Recorder, Garden Moths.
United Kingdom
Just bringing this very useful thread back into circulation!

And could we have some identifications to go with the photographs? Or am I missing something?

Steve
 

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