Thursday, 23 May 2019

Rare Moth at the Back Door


On 7 May Tim alerted me that he'd had Patton's Tiger Hyphoraia testudinaria (Fr. Ecaille des steppes) in his moth trap in the Aigronne Valley. I'd never heard of this species and had to look it up. Then lo and behold, on 12 May I woke up to find one, a male, peering in at my back door. We are in the adjoining river valley, and it seems reports are coming in from the adjoining départements as well. We don't know why this year there is such a widespread appearance of a moth that hitherto none of us had heard of before, much less seen.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

It is one of those species that there doesn't seem to be any consistent information about (which makes me wonder if it is in fact a species complex). Some sources say it is an upland species found in the Pyrenees, Massif Central and Maritime Alps and the caterpillars eat plantain (Plantago spp) and dock (Rumex spp). Others extend its range into lowland south-west and central France, as far north as Paris, and provide a much longer list of low growing plants that the caterpillars can be found on, including reedgrasses (Calamagrostis spp) and hairgrasses (Deschampsia spp).

Photograph Susan Walter.  Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

It is said to like hot wet places and there is some indication that its range is shrinking in the west and it is becoming increasingly localised.



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4 comments:

  1. A very fine moth with its male lion headdress...Not one we ever photographed...C

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    1. It's a very attractive little moth. I've been really surprised at how much attention it's gained on FB in the insect group.

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  2. Very pretty - and as long as they are outside, I'm happy. I do hate them flying around the hob when I'm cooking lol

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    1. That would be a bit annoying -- never had that happen here.

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