Moth Diary October 2012

As the chill of autumn begins to make its presences felt, the moth fauna undergoes another change; the last before the end of the year.

Many of the late summer species have all but gone, and only a few late bedraggled adults remain. October sees the emergence of the beautifully-coloured Merveille du jour Dichonia aprilina, an extremely photogenic moth that blends beautifully with the lichen-covered tree trunks rendering it virtually cryptic when at rest during the daytime.

The Canary-shouldered Thorn Ennomos alniaria and the Sprawler Asteroscopus sphinx are two other attractive species that fly during early autumn.

Merveille du Jour Dichonia aprilina

This attractive pale green moth is unlikely to be confused with any other autumnal species. The moth when freshly emerged, has green forewings with white cross lines and  distinctive black spots, but the colour fades with age to brownish yellow. The moth is more commonly encountered during late September and October inhabiting mature woodland and parkland areas. Adults rest by day among crevices and the lichen-covered branches and trunks. The caterpillars feed on the leaves of oak.

Merveille du Jour Dichonia aprilina

Canary-shouldered Thorn Ennomos alniaria

The Adult are similar in appearance to the August Thorn Ennomos quercinaria, but can be easly recognised by the bright canary-yellow thorax, which is quite hairy. The forewings are scalloped along the outer edges, and there is also two conspicuous cross cross-lines. Adults occur in a wide range of habitats especially woodland, heaths and bogs often resting among the foliage by day. The caterpillars feed on a number of trees including birch and willow.

Canary-shouldered Thorn Ennomos alniaria

Sprawler Asteroscopus sphinx

This is a large, distinctive, autumnal moth, which is not frequently encountered  although widespread throughout much of England and Wales; it appears to be more localised in Ireland. Adults rest during the day on the trunks and branches of trees and occasionally fence posts blending nicely with their surroundings. The caterpillars feed on a number of trees including hazel, oak and willow.

Sprawler Asteroscopus sphinx


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