Monday, 5 December 2016

Moth Mondays - The Ruby Tiger

MOTH MONDAYS


The Ruby Tiger
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Erebidae
Tribe: Arctiini
Genus: Phragmatobia
Species: Phragmatobia fuliginosa
(Arctia rubricosa)



A change for this week... another Tiger... but quite a "plain" one... the Ruby Tiger [Phragmatobia fuliginosa] l'Ecaille cramoisie...
a small moth, much attracted to windows at night.
Called by someone on an insect forum I use... "The Burlesque"!!

They are an attractive moth.... and here, very frequently observed!!
A brown, furry thorax and brown forewings, occasionally grey-black in the more northern forms.... hide a secret....
it is the hind wings of this moth that are the spectacular part...
here mainly black with a scarlet edge....
[see below for description of the base form which is almost reversed]....
and the ruby-red and black-striped abdomen.

The hind wings of this one are closer to what is expected...
but still contain a lot of black.  If you look carefully....
you can just make out a paler ring around the bigger spot on the righthand forewing.
Also we are beside the Aigronne...
so there are three waterboatmen and a mayfly in this picture.


The caterpillars, whilst still called woolly bears, are yet again more like a bristly scrubbing brush than anything described as woolly!!


Much smaller than the previous two Tigers.... the wingspan is 35–45 mm
The 'reference' species has the thorax and forewing dark reddish brown with a blackish comma-shaped (?) spot at the centre of the wing, edged with carmine (?).
Hindwing carmine, more or less colourless in the leading edge of the wing, with more or less confluent black spots before the margin and at the apex of the central area of the wing.
The name-typical / reference form P. fuliginosa has the forewing rather densely scaled and the hindwing bright rose-red with distinct black spots.
Underside strongly suffused with purple-pink.
There are numerous subspecies....

Most possibly borealis ...
the wing is transparent enough to show the pale leading edge of the hindwing.

P.f. borealis
has vivid black markings and in which the red is confined to the sides of the abdomen and the anal part of the hindwing.

Most probably P.f. borealis....
the forewing is almost completely without scales....
and you can clearly see the red of the hindwing.
P.f. subnigra has a very dark forewing but must not be confused with the northern form;
it is scarcely darker than true fuliginosa, and not so transparent as borealis.
P.f. flavescens has both the abdomen and hindwing in yellow instead of red.


This is one from the underside....
the odd grey blobs are where I have tried to tone down reflections.
[My little camera has a built in LED ring-light.]

The moth flies twice, in May and from July to August depending on the location....
and if there is a second brood.

The egg is reddish grey.
The larva is light or dark grey with a black brown head.
The entire body is covered with pale, rusty hairs; these hairs are always more black brown in placida, and sometimes so in fuliginosa. There is a visible yellow stripe down the back with pairs of black and white spots beside the hair tufts.
It can be found in June, late autumn and after hibernation in April, on low-growing plants, on high-roads, railway embankments and waste fields.
On warm days in the winter the larvae sometimes leave their hiding-places and are then found on footpaths and roads, running about quickly.
The caterpillars feed on various herbaceous plants:
Salix sp, Rubus fruticosus, Prunus spinosa, Filipendula ulmaria, Plantago lanceolata, Senecio jacobaea , Taraxacum officinale .
The pupa is black with the abdomen marked with yellow in the segmental incision

This is a really good example of the ordinary, foxy brown 'base' version....
you can clearly see the ring around the larger of the black dots...
but as for it being "carmine".... that's debatable!

Next Monday... The Jersey Tiger and bonus....the Scarlet Tiger....


________________________________________________________
Sources
Other than Wikipedia.... and personal observations!
Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa [ also known as Leps.it]
A superbly illustrated site.... marvellous on the Micromoths...
but difficult to use on a tablet/iPad.... an awful lot of scrolling needed.

Lepidoptera.eu   An excellent resource... with distribution maps

UK Moths This is quite a simple site... but nicely put together.

The German site Lepiforum.de - For really good samples of photos...
including museum specimens: to use....
Enter the Latin name and then select the Latin name from the list of pages found.
There is probably a lot more on this site... but I don't read [or speak] German!!


2 comments:

Susan said...

Check out the Wikipedia entry for carmine. I think the colour description is fairly accurate, at least for that last typical one. BTW, I don't think I've ever noticed this species. You say it's common, so I must pay more attention.

LaPré DelaForge said...

From the Wiki - " it is also a general term for a particularly deep-red color."...
The legs are carmine, yes... as are the red parts of the hindwings...
but the ring around the large dot is more of a pale pink to light brown...
As for common... it will be so in the river valleys...
but possibly not up by your house.
You could try blowing your villagers' minds by going down to the river in April/May/June... or possibly better still the etang... and doing the white sheet and strong light trick!!
That said, you might have seen it from underneath on your windows...
in which case it is a pretty drab, brown/beige colour.. the only give away being the "thighs" of the front and middle set of legs... it is less than an inch long... not like the larger, slightly noiser Tigers... so... very easily overlooked from indoors.... looks like just another chunky Noctuid.