Saturday, 31 October 2015

Day 351 - Happy Halloween! - Pammene aurana

Pammene aurana (I think) at Silton Forest
14 Days to go!!

Hey everyone today's Day 351 and the first thing to say is: 'Happy Halloween'! Well, as it's Halloween I thought I would do a Halloween theme post. A while ago, I saw the Agapeta hamana and I gave it the common name of the Smiley Moth as, on its wings, it had a smiley face! Well, a while ago as well, I saw another one that looked like it. But this looked almost exactly like a pumpkin. I thought there and then, even though I saw it in July, "Halloween!".

Now, I've done loads of web research on this moth and had advice from a moth expert but its one that's not easy to identify from a photo. It's definitely the same family as the Agapeta hamana, one of the Tortix family of moths but after that it's hard to tell. The closest match I could find to my photos is the Pammene aurana so that's the one I've researched. No common name so I'll say it's the Halloween Moth.

Enjoying the Hogweed
So, here are the facts:

  • They aren't the most common. They are found around England, Wales and Scotland. Not at all in Ireland though.
  • In Yorkshire there's been about 300 sightings. The were first recorded in Yorkshire in 1883.
  • One reason why they aren't seen might be not seen as much is because they are extremely small! 
  • "How small?" you say. Well, they are very small only, on average, 11mm with their forewings! 
This is why it reminded me of Halloween
  • They fly most commonly between June and July. This is a very small flight period. The smallest I have seen.
  • The adults like to feed on Hogweed and so do the larvae which will spin seeds together, I assume with silk, and will feed on the seeds inside the spinning they have made.
  • Around October when the larvae are fully grown they head to the soil and spin a cocoon which they live in over the winter.
  • They will then pupate in the cocoon in the spring before emerging as adults.
    Can you see now?
  • Habitats they like are really anywhere you will find hogweed so hedgerows, woodlands rides and edges and roadside verges
  • I bet you're all wondering where 'Jack-O-Lanterns' come from. Well it seems to be a Celtic tradition and Halloween is a mix of Christian and Pagan traditions.
  • Originally they were made in Britain out of turnips and on Guy Fawkes night and Halloween turnip lanterns. A man with a lantern used to be known as a Jack-o-lantern and eventually it got applied to the turnip lanterns.
    Our Jack-o-lanterns this year
  • When Irish settlers went to America they found Pumpkins made better lanterns and so we get the modern tradition.
  • There is also a legend about a man called 'Stingy Jack' who was supposed to have tricked the devil - cut a long story short he was made to walk the earth with a turnip lantern not being allowed into heaven on account of being an 'unsavoury character'.
Well here's a few link to more information:




Hope you enjoyed,

Z.




4 comments:

  1. It's a pity you couldn't find a death's head hawk moth for Halloween that would have been amazing

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    1. Will have to work on that for next year :-)

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  2. Beautiful and definitely reminds me of the pumpkin Zach! I also like the fact that some spiders almost have skulls on their abdomens. - Tasha

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    1. Shall have to look more closely at spiders - a bit scary without skulls though!

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