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BW03 | Moths and Butterflies of the Mizen Peninsula

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BW03 | Moths and Butterflies of the Mizen Peninsula

 

 

Jules Thomas has two murals of the moths and butterflies at Mizen.

Butterfly and Moth families

Butterflies

The Nymphalidae are the largest family of butterflies with more than 6,000 species distributed throughout most of the world, belonging to the superfamily Papilionoidea. These are usually medium-sized to large butterflies. Most species have a reduced pair of forelegs and many hold their colourful wings flat when resting. They are also called brush-footed butterflies or four-footed butterflies, because they are known to stand on only four legs while the other two are curled up; in some species, these forelegs have a brush-like set of hairs, which gives this family its other common name. Many species are brightly coloured and include popular species such as the emperors, monarch butterfly, admirals, fritillaries. However, the under wings are, in contrast, often dull and in some species look remarkably like dead leaves, or are much paler, producing a cryptic effect that helps the butterflies blend into their surroundings.

The Satyrinae,  commonly known as the browns, are a subfamily of the Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies). They were formerly considered a distinct family, Satyridae. This group contains nearly half of the known diversity of brush-footed butterflies. The true number of the Satyrinae species is estimated to exceed 2400.

The Pieridae are a large family of butterflies with about 1,100 species Most pierid butterflies are white, yellow, or orange in coloration, often with black spots. The pigments that give the distinct coloring to these butterflies are derived from waste products in the body and are a characteristic of this family.  The name "butterfly" is believed by some people to have originated from a member of this family, the brimstone, which was called the "butter-coloured fly" by early British naturalists.  The sexes usually differ, often in the pattern or number of the black markings.  The larvae (caterpillars) of a few species are seen in gardens, feed on brassicas, and are notorious agricultural pests.

The Lycaenidae is the second-largest family of butterflies (behind Nymphalidae, brush-footed butterflies), with over 6,000 species worldwide, whose members are also called gossamer-winged butterflies. They constitute about 30% of the known butterfly species. Adults are small, under 5 cm usually, and brightly coloured, sometimes with a metallic gloss. Larvae are often flattened rather than cylindrical, with glands that may produce secretions that attract and subdue ants. Some use sounds to communicate with ants.  Many species also have a spot at the base of the tail and some turn around upon landing to confuse potential predators from recognizing the true head orientation. This causes predators to approach from the true head end resulting in early visual detection.

Moths

The Arctiinae (formerly called the Arctiidae) are a large and diverse subfamily of moths, with around 11,000 species found all over the world.  This group includes the groups commonly known as tiger moths (or tigers), which usually have bright colours, footmen, which are usually much drabber, lichen moths, and wasp moths. Many species have "hairy" caterpillars that are popularly known as woolly bears or woolly worms.

The Zygaenidae moths The majority of zygaenids are tropical, but they are nevertheless quite well represented in temperate regions. Some of the 1000 or so species are commonly known as burnet or forester moths, often qualified by the number of spots, although other families also have 'foresters'. They are also sometimes called smoky moths.

The Macroglossinae are a sub-family of Sphingidae moths.   The Sphingidae belong to the Superfamily Sphingoidea. Members of this family are commonly called "hummingbird," "sphinx," or "hawk" moths, and some can be mistaken for hummingbirds. Most are medium to large moths, with heavy bodies; wingspread reaches 5 inches or more in some species. The Sphingidae are strong and fast fliers, with a rapid wingbeat. Most species in the group are active at dusk, and most feed much like hummingbirds, hovering in front of a flower and sipping nectar through the extended proboscis. The proboscis rolls up when not in use.  The caterpillar of some species can be very destructive to agricultural crops and ornamental plantings.

In 2006 and 2007 Dr. Julian Clarke came to do a moth survey at Mizen Head.  We have made a panel with his findings.

Julian Clarke  Notes on Moth trapping at Mizen 2007
The following species are of particular interest
Striped Hawk – this species migrates up from Southern Europe and North Africa – seen every year in the British Isles but usually as one or two at a time. There was also a migration of some other more common moths at the time (Bordered Straw, Rush Veneer and Dark Sword Grass). Pictures are attached of two of the examples seen at Mizen – a spectacular large species. On this date I saw one was also taken at Portland Bird Observatory as well as elsewhere in Dorset and Kent. Photos = Mizen livornica 1-8
The Grey – aptly named as the moth is a uniform grey matching well the rocky areas where it breeds. A moth confined to rocky coastal areas and found in western Scotland, Isle of Man and western and southern coasts of Ireland. Larvae feed nocturnally on sea campion (Silene) of which there is an abundance at Mizen. Picture attached of larva (found under sea campion where it hides by day) = caesia larva.
Bordered Gothic – in the British Isles this is now a very rare moth indeed. The last specimens in England were taken at Portland (Dorset) in 1993 and from Norfolk a few years later. One or two have been seen in North Kent in the late 1990s but none recently. It used to be very abundant in East Anglia - the reasons for its decline are unknown. In Ireland however the situation is much rosier, with records from the south coast in the area of Cork and Ballycotton as well as Mizen. TheIrish race has been described as a separate subspecies (although the ones from the Isle of Portland
are close to this in colouration) as it is darker and more purple tinged than the rather plain brown. Mizen – is this recorded from any botanical survey? It also (and I am breeding some now from eggs laid by a female) seems to eat almost any low growing plant. Picture attached = Photos = reticulata 3-5.
Pod Lover – named after the feeding habits of the larvae (seed pods and flowers of sea campion) this is a Western Irish form (subspecies capsophila) of the Tawny Shears moth. In England the colour of this species varies from whitish moths on the shingle expanse at Dungeness (Kent) to sandy brown from many inland localities to darkish forms approaching the Irish subspecies seen in far western Cornwall.
Barrett’s Marbled Coronet – this is also confined to coastal areas and occurs in Devon, Cornwall, Wales and Irish coasts in the southern half of Ireland. These are more silvery in colour than the English ones (which also vary somewhat from locality to locality). The larvae is a root feeder and looks like a white maggot – it feeds on the roots of Sea Campion and also rock sea spurrey (Spergularia rupicola).
All in all this was a great moth list of many interesting species with the fantastic migration of striped hawks thrown as a bonus – probably the best night’s mothing I have had for many years!
When I am in Ireland next time I would like to have another try and see what else of interest I can find.
site reports

1st July, 2007
VICE-COUNTY West Cork
SITE DETAILS Mizen Head, Co Cork, Ireland
V739236
Species Recorded
Hepialus fusconebulosa National status
Map-winged Swift Local
16 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Pleurota bicostella National status
a micro-moth Local
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Epiblema cynosbatella National status
a tortrix moth Common
16 JUN 2007 - 2 adults trapped - MV light

Chrysoteuchia culmella National status
Garden Grass-veneer Common
16 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Crambus pascuella National status
a pyralid moth Common
16 JUN 2007 - 5 adults trapped - MV light

Agriphila inquinatella National status
a pyralid moth Common
17 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Scoparia pyralella National status
a pyralid moth Common
16 JUN 2007 - 5 adults trapped - MV light

Pyrausta despicata National status
a pyralid moth Local
16 JUN 2007 - 4 adults trapped - MV light

Opsibotys fuscalis National status
a pyralid moth Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Udea ferrugalis National status
a pyralid moth Migrant
16 JUN 2007 - 30 adults trapped - MV light

Nomophila noctuella National status
Rush Veneer Migrant
16 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Pyla fusca National status
a pyralid moth Common
16 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Pempelia diluta National status
a pyralid moth Local
16 JUN 2007 - 20 adults trapped - MV light

Macrothylacia rubi National status
Fox Moth Common
16 JUN 2007 - 3 adults trapped - MV light

Habrosyne pyritoides National status
Buff Arches Common
17 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Scopula marginepunctata National status
Mullein Wave Local
16 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Idaea subsericeata National status
Satin Wave Common
16 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Xanthorhoe ferrugata National status
Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Xanthorhoe fluctuata National status
Garden Carpet Common
16 JUN 2007 - 5 adults trapped - MV light

Epirrhoe galiata National status
Galium Carpet Local
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Cosmorhoe ocellata National status
Purple Bar Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Eupithecia pulchellata National status
Foxglove Pug Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Eupithecia venosata National status
Netted Pug Local
16 JUN 2007 - 3 adults trapped - MV light

Eupithecia centaureata National status
Lime-speck Pug Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Eupithecia subfuscata National status
Grey Pug Common
16 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Eupithecia subumbrata National status
Shaded Pug Local
16 JUN 2007 - 5 adults trapped - MV light

Eupithecia distinctaria constricta National status
Thyme Pug Notable/Nb
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Eupithecia nanata angusta National status
Narrow-winged Pug Local
16 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Gymnoscelis rufifasciata National status
Double-striped Pug Common
16 JUN 2007 - 5 adults trapped - MV light

Petrophora chlorosata National status
Brown Silver-line Common
16 JUN 2007 - 2 adults trapped - MV light

Biston betularia National status
Peppered Moth Common
16 JUN 2007 - 5 adults trapped - MV light

Dyscia fagaria National status
Grey Scalloped Bar Local
16 JUN 2007 - 2 adults trapped - MV light

Smerinthus ocellata National status
Eyed Hawk-moth Common
16 JUN 2007 - 3 adults trapped - MV light

Hyles lineata livornica National status
Striped Hawk-moth Migrant
16 JUN 2007 - 4 adults trapped - MV light

17 JUN 2007 - 1 female trapped - MV light

Deilephila elpenor National status
Elephant Hawk-moth Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Phalera bucephala National status
Buff-tip Common
16 JUN 2007 - 3 adults trapped - MV light

Cerura vinula National status
Puss Moth Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Stauropus fagi National status
Lobster Moth Common
17 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Eligmodonta ziczac National status
Pebble Prominent Common
16 JUN 2007 - 2 adults trapped - MV light

Arctia caja National status
Garden Tiger Common
17 JUN 2007 - 1 larva

Spilosoma lubricipeda National status
White Ermine Common
16 JUN 2007 - 20 adults trapped - MV light

Spilosoma luteum National status
Buff Ermine Common
16 JUN 2007 - 40 adults trapped - MV light

Tyria jacobaeae National status
Cinnabar Common
16 JUN 2007 - 60 adults trapped - MV light

Agrotis vestigialis National status
Archer's Dart Local
16 JUN 2007 - 5 adults trapped - MV light

Agrotis exclamationis National status
Heart and Dart Common
16 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Agrotis ipsilon National status
Dark Sword-grass Migrant
17 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Standfussiana lucernea National status
Northern Rustic Local
16 JUN 2007 - 20 adults trapped - MV light

17 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Noctua pronuba National status
Large Yellow Underwing Common
16 JUN 2007 - 100 adults trapped - MV light

Diarsia brunnea National status
Purple Clay Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Diarsia rubi National status
Small Square-spot Common
16 JUN 2007 - 2 adults trapped - MV light

Hada plebja National status
Shears Common
16 JUN 2007 - 20 adults trapped - MV light

Heliophobus reticulata hibernica National status
Bordered Gothic Ireland only
16 JUN 2007 - 3 adults trapped - MV light

17 JUN 2007 - 4 males trapped - MV light

Lacanobia oleracea National status
Bright-line Brown-eye Common
16 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Ceramica pisi National status
Broom Moth Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Hadena rivularis National status
Campion Common
16 JUN 2007 - 5 adults trapped - MV light

Hadena perplexa capsophila National status
Pod Lover Local
16 JUN 2007 - 45 adults trapped - MV light

17 JUN 2007 - 20 adults trapped - MV light

Hadena andalusica barrettii National status
Barrett's Marbled Coronet Na
16 JUN 2007 - 40 adults trapped - MV light

17 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Hadena bicruris National status
Lychnis Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Hadena caesia mananii National status
Grey RDB3
16 JUN 2007 - 6 adults trapped - MV light

17 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Mythimna pudorina National status
Striped Wainscot Local
17 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Mythimna litoralis National status
Shore Wainscot Notable/Nb
17 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Mythimna comma National status
Shoulder-striped Wainscot Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Cucullia umbratica National status
Shark Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Acronicta euphorbiae myricae National status
Sweet Gale Moth Na
16 JUN 2007 - 6 adults trapped - MV light

Acronicta rumicis National status
Knotgrass Common
16 JUN 2007 - 5 adults trapped - MV light

Rusina ferruginea National status
Brown Rustic Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Phlogophora meticulosa National status
Angle Shades Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Apamea monoglypha National status
Dark Arches Common
16 JUN 2007 - 50 adults trapped - MV light

Apamea crenata National status
Clouded-bordered Brindle Common
16 JUN 2007 - 2 adults trapped - MV light

Apamea remissa National status
Dusky Brocade Common
16 JUN 2007 - 10 adults trapped - MV light

Heliothis peltigera National status
Bordered Straw Migrant
16 JUN 2007 - 2 adults trapped - MV light

17 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Lithacodia pygarga National status
Marbled White Spot Common
16 JUN 2007 - 4 adults trapped - MV light

Diachrysia chrysitis National status
Burnished Brass Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Abrostola triplasia National status
Dark Spectacle Common
17 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Rivula sericealis National status
Straw Dot Common
16 JUN 2007 - 1 adult trapped - MV light

Butterfly Panel Legend

1.Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta:Nymphalidae)

 6.2:7.2 cm. A summer seasonal migrant from Europe and Africa feeding on nectar rich plants like Buddleia and Nettles.

 2.Painted Lady (Cynthia cardui:Nymphalidae)

 5.8:7.4 cm. A summer seasonal migrant from Europe feeding on Buddleia, Nettles and Thistles.

3.Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus:Satyridae)

4.5:5.2 cm. Resident night feeding on Brambles, Thistles and Orchids.

 4.Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni:Pieridae)

 6:7.5 cm. Resident which feeds exclusively on Buckthorn and unusually hibernates.

 5.Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae:Nymphalidae)

 4.5:6.2 cm. Common resident, feeding on Dandelions and laying eggs on Nettles up to three times a year.

 6.Large White (Pieris brassicae:Pieridae)

 6:7.6 cm. Sometimes called Cabbage Whites as they lay eggs on cabbage and related plants.

 7.Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera:Satyridae)

 4.5:5.5 cm. Sun worshipping resident feeding on Wild Carrot.

 8.Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus:Pieridae)

 5.2:6.2 cm. A summer migrant feeding on trefoils and laying eggs on Clover.

 9.Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus:Lycaenidae)

 3.5:4 cm. A subspecies of the female butterfly, which has distintive orange tipped wings, known as Mariscolor occurs in Ireland, feeding and laying on Bird's Foot Trefoil.

 10.Peacock (Inachis io:Nymphalidae)

 6.3:7 cm. Common resident feeding on nectar rich plants like Buddleia and laying eggs on common Nettles

 11.Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae:Artiidae)

 1.7:2.3 cm. A day time moth feeding on Ragwort.

 12.Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas:Lycaenidae)

 3.2:3.5 cm. An increasingly rare resident feeding on Ox-eye Daisy, Common Sorrel, Knapweed and heathers.

 13.Six-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae:Zygaenida)

 1.5:2 cm. A day time grassland moth which feeds on Bird's Foot Trefoil.

 14.Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines:Pieridae)

 4:5 cm. Hedgerows woodlands and meadows, feeding on Cuckoo flowers and Ragged Robin.

 15.Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis pahia:Nymphalidae)

 7:8 cm. Silver streaked under wing-one of the larger species- inhabiting woodland and feeding on Violets.

 16.Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum: Macroglossinae)         

 1.6:2.5 cm. A European immigrant day time moth feeding on Valerian, Buddleia and Honeysuckle

 17.Holly Blue (Celestrina argiolus:Lycaenidae)

 3:3.5 cm. Woodland margins and meadows feeding on Holly, Ivy, Gorse and Buckthorn.

 18.Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina:Satyridae)

5.2:5.6 cm. One of Ireland's most abundant grassland butterflies with at least two sub-species feeding on grasses.

 19.Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria:Satyridae)

 4.7:5 cm. One of Ireland's commonest butterflies living and laying on road side verges and grasses.

 

 

 

 

Gallery

Donated/Contributed by: 

Dr Julian Clarke Moth Recorder
Jules Thomas

Contact Us

Mizen Head Signal Station
Mizen Tourism Co-operative Society Ltd.
Harbour Road
Goleen
West Cork
Ireland
Tel: +353 28 35000 or + 353 28 35115 (Summer Only)
E: info@mizenhead.ie

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