Monday 9 January 2017

Moth Mondays - The Herald


The Herald
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family:  Erebidae
Genus:  Scoliopteryx
Species: S. libatrix
Binomial name
Scoliopteryx libatrix

This rather beautiful, medium sized moth...
The Herald [Scoliopteryx libatrix] la Découpure....
I saw for the first time in a cave near here...
covered in moisture as it hibernated in the company of bats...
bats being surveyed by Susan [29/12/2010].

You can see the moisture droplets all over this one!

It is known to hibernate in caves, woodpiles, sheds, attics, etc....
and is renown for being seen at any time of the year.
It flies March to November... the early ones being the ones from hibernation...
the later ones being the newly hatched. These can be spotted feeding on sugars from ripe or over-ripe blackberries... and later, nectaring on Ivy blossom.

From our wood store!!

They are an attractive moth... the French name being particularly apt in my opinion....
the overall shield shape  giving it the English name, along with the copper-hued pattern.
The underwing is drab grey-brown with a paler outer edge.

This shows the underwing... it was in such torpor that I did this without it moving!

The underside is mid-grey-brown... lightly patterned... with an abdomen of the same colour.
It has largely white legs with some brown bands... the legs contrast strongly with the underside... the best selection of pictures to see the underside and the underwing is on the German site mentioned below.[This opens in a new window]

This is a different specimen... one month later, on our trailer cover.
Near some piled wood and leaves... it is sunning itself!
This is another view of the moth sunbathing.
The caterpillars feed on willow, aspen and poplar... all of which we have around here in plenty!! They are however, difficult to spot.... as their long, green spindle-like shape can easily be missed as "part of the leaf"! They pupate between two leaves, stuck together by their silk.

It is a leaf mimic, like the famous Lappet moth... so my presumption is that it hibernates most in piles of leaf litter... its association with caves, woodpiles, etcetera being because that is where it is most easily spotted!

Next Monday... The Convolvulus Hawkmoth!

NB: The information from the other sources is now placed at the bottom of the post.

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

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

The German site - 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!!

From the Wiki:

The herald (Scoliopteryx libatrix) is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It is found throughout the Palearctic and Nearctic (Holarctic).

Wingspan of about 44 mm.[1] Wings ample; the forewing angled in middle of termen, concave between the angle and the acute apex. Forewing grey mixed with ochreous, with fuscous striae, posteriorly with a rosy tinge: the veins terminally whitish; an irregular median suffusion reaching from base to middle, orange red more or less mixed with yellow; inner and outer lines pale with dark edges; a white spot at base on median vein; a white dot represents the orbicular stigma; reniform formed of two black dots; hindwing fuscous, paler at base.

The Herald's flight period is between June and November, in one or two broods. During the winter the herald moth hibernates in dark, cool structures (e.g. cellars, barns and caves), returning to take wing again from March to June. Its habitat is woodland parks and gardens, and (perhaps consequently) the resting wing pattern resembles a dead, shrivelled leaf.

Herald caterpillars are long, and of a bright green shade common to many caterpillars. They are distinguished by the thin yellow lines running across the body between segments. When maturity is reached, they pupate between two leaves, in a white cocoon made of silk.

Food plants:
As larvae:    Willow    Aspen    Poplar

As adults:    Ivy blossom    Ripe blackberries

From UK Moths

The Herald  Scoliopteryx libatrix
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Wingspan 40-45 mm.

Quite a spectacular species, this colourful moth overwinters as an adult, and as a result, can be one of the last species to be seen in one year, and one of the first in the next. It is also sometimes found hibernating inside barns and outbuildings.

The adults are attracted to both light and sugar, and the species is fairly common and well distributed over much of Britain, though it is less common in Scotland.

The larvae feed on willow (Salix) and poplar (Populus).


Susan said...

Such an attractive moth. Very interesting to see it obelisking, like a Libellulid dragonfly, to catch the sun. I didn't know moths did that.

Le Pré de la Forge said...

You know where our trailer lives....
so that picture would have been taken in the morning...
I can only think that it felt the early doors sun and reacted.
The bit of trailer cover it was on sat almost vertically... so don't let that shadow fool you as to time.
It was horribly exposed where it was... so it might also have been trying to make itself more leaf-like.
Presumably, as it is recorded as feeding on over-ripe blackberries...
it must do some day-flying.... but nothing I read mentioned that at all!
The Mother-of-Pearl moths we get here in vast numbers all sun themselves... but to my observation more normally.... as they are most easily observed on the Russian Lavender outside the front door... I ought to try and see if any that are in a less favourable orientation.... are actually doing this!!
Makes for an attractive picture, tho'!!

Sheila said...

Gorgeous...maybe my favorite so far. That first photo could be of a cloisonné brooch.

Le Pré de la Forge said...

Sheila... I do enamelling on copper... the tempatation to do a herald broach or sculpture is now firmly embedded in my mind... probably a sculpture as it is easy for me to find a suitable mount!!
My aim for this year is to create a space to set the kiln up!
The last sculpture was a "Large Blue" mounted on slate with some "wild Thyme"... both the bits in inverted commas were in enamel on copper...
thanks for the inspiration!!