Monday, April 27, 2020

Moth Eared

As the summer is about to begin, one of the large lepidoperan larvae currently visible is that of the Lesser Yellow Underwing Moth, Noctua comes. These larvae have emerged from an overwintering period and will restart feeding on the wide variety of plants that are typically consumed by this polyphagous species. Adults emerge from July to mid autumn from pupation in the soil, in an earthen chamber. While generally nocturnal, the larva can be seen in suburban gardens due to their varied diet which includes weeds and commercial bedding plants.
Lesser Yellow Underwing, Noctua comes, larva

The adults get their name from their orange-yellow hind wings that re generally not visible when at rest. While it is widely distributed throughout Europe, it is also established in North America where it was first recorded in 1984. Since then, it has proved to be a pest of grapes and tobacco which the larvae feed on to often quite damaging result.
As a night flying moth, N. comes is a major component of the diet of the European bat fauna. Hunting by echo location, the bats obviously emit sounds that the insects either cannot detect or do not respond to. However, often bats are ringed as part of conservation methods and sometimes there may be two rings close to each other. When these rings touch in flight a sound is created which alerts the moth, actuating evasive manoeuvers.

Arlettaz et al., Animal Behaviour 57 1999 pp. 829-835
Alford, Pests of Fruit Crops: A Color Handbook 2007 pp. 369-370
Copley and Cannings, Journal of the Entomological Society of British Ccolumbia 102 2005 pp. 83-84

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