jccurd's picture

Potential Copper Underwing

Observed: 5th July 2011 By: jccurdjccurd’s reputation in Invertebratesjccurd’s reputation in Invertebratesjccurd’s reputation in Invertebratesjccurd’s reputation in Invertebrates
IMG_1652_Potential_Copper_Underwing
Description:

Yes, it's the moth numbskull again: I can't even see the "underwing" bit, never mind the "copper" bit. Still, those two black-and-white eye spots, together with the general wing markings, make me lean towards a Copper Underwing.
So, probably not, then. :))

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Comments

Douglas's picture

Opps, typo above. I wasn't

Opps, typo above. I wasn't referring to the moth's friends; I meant palps!

Best wishes,

Douglas

jccurd's picture

Now you've confused me ...

... and presumably you also meant "oops" rather than "opps".

So, are you saying this is or is not a Copper Underwing, 'cos you're id looks like it says it is a Copper Underwing?

Not having access to anything more comprehensive than Townsend/Waring/Lewington, I'm contentedly surprised when I think I recognize anything in the moth world. ;-)

DavidHowdon's picture

One of two

It is one of two.

Personally I tend to use "Amphipyra pyramidea/berbera subsp. svenssoni" for this aggregate on iSpot but Douglas's version "Amphipyra pyramidea agg." is equally valid.

Examination of the underside of the hindwing on a fresh specimen is I think currently regarded as the only valid way to separate them.

If it is not fresh then dissection may be required.

jccurd's picture

OK, that's clearer ...

... now I can see what you're talking about because Townsend/Waring/Lewington does mention Svensson's Copper Underwing (A. berbera svenssoni) but does not mention any agg. terminology.

I'm just glad I didn't feel the need to kill such a fine creature to distinguish it more precisely. Still, since I do feel the need for a useful name, I'll continue to call it a Copper Underwing (just privately), whether Svensson's or not. ;-)

Thanks for the clarification.

John

Douglas's picture

Yes, sorry agg. is aggregate;

Yes, sorry agg. is aggregate; covering Copper Underwing and Svensson's Copper Underwing.

David, I believe some say that even hindwing (both upper and underside) are invalid ways of separation; however I haven't done any research or seen any sort of proof. Everyone seems to have their own views on this one. Which is why I treat this as a 'jigsaw' moth, needing all different characteristics to fit an ID together. When they don't fit, I agg. them. But that's just me (I don't bother with GD).

Best wishes,

Douglas

DavidHowdon's picture

Hindwing

The recent guide to difficult species from Butterfly Conservation mentions that on worn specimens of Svensson's the copper can be sufficiently faded on the hindwing that it looks like Copper Underwing.

So I think the situation is if it has the features of Svensson's (copper extending up the underside of the hindwing) it is one. If it has the features of Copper Undering then dissection is probably necessary.

jccurd's picture

i.e.

A Svensson's can fade and look like a [regular] Copper but a [regular] Copper cannot look like a Svensson's ... always assuming, of course, that one can see the hind-wing. ;-)

I think I've got that the right way around.

John

jccurd's picture

please ...

... don't tell me GD stands for Genital Dissection.

Douglas's picture

It does yes. Something I

It does yes. Something I understand is necessary but not something I do myself.

By the way technically it's determination not dissection, but same thing.

Best wishes,

Douglas

jccurd's picture

I applaud your restraint

I also wondered if "determination" might imply that a hand lens might suffice, as opposed the the rather radical knife approach, on occasion?It certainly would on Odonata which is more my thing. Maybe all relevant characteristics for Lepidoptera are more internal, though?

John

DavidHowdon's picture

Hand lens

There are a few species (e.g. November moths) where you can extrude the relevant features (on a male at least) on an anesthetized specimen and do it with a hand lens. But as you say in most cases the features are internal.

Martin Harvey's picture

French species

Since this observation is from France, are there still just two species to choose from or does it get even more complicated on the continent?

Personally I use the underside of the hindwing to distinguish the two British species, but I expect there are problems with worn specimens. To see the correct part of the underside you do have to get hold of the moth and gently stretch its wing out, it's not just a matter of turning it upside-down.

The difference in the palps has been widely quoted but I am convinced it is unreliable.

The easy way to identify the two species is to look for their caterpillars, which have an angular projection towards the hind end, which is pale-tipped in Copper Underwing, but red-tipped in Svensson's.

First find your caterpillar ...

----
Entomologist and biological recorder

jccurd's picture

More Insight

Thanks, Martin.

I just looked in another book (small, relatively cheap - a Collins Gem Guide) which suggests that two species would still be the count for France.

Interestingly, it suggests yet another distinguishing feature between the two:

"... but A. pyramidea has a fairly distinct chequer-board pattern on the sides of the abdomen while berbera has just a plain black suffusion."

Anyone able to comment on that one?

John

DavidHowdon's picture

Feature

I've not encountered that feature described before and it is not mentioned in the Townsendm Clifton and Goodey guide to the difficult species which is pretty comprehensive.

I think I'd be wary of it if it has not made it to any other guides than the Collins Gem, possibly the feature has been discredited.

Martin Harvey's picture

abdomen

The abdomen feature is illustrated in this downloadable pdf:
http://www.staffs-ecology.org.uk/staffsmoths/articles/When_3_moths_becom...

where it looks temptingly like a nice clear distinction, but I suspect that it's not quite so straightforward in real life, given the range of variation in moths and the degree to which scales can get lost/worn off.

----
Entomologist and biological recorder

DavidHowdon's picture

Thanks

Although for the reasons you suggest I find the illustration in that guide rather unconvincing.

The Copper Underwing shown (with the bright abdomen marking) seems really fresh with obvious copper.

The Svenssons Copper Undeweing seems much duller overall, perhaps more worn, and with the copper not showing.

jccurd's picture

A pinch of salt, then.

I suspect you're both quite right. So often, diagrams or selected clear photos of "typical" individuals make a feature obvious whereas the reality is that they are frequently less distinct in the field.

Thanks everyone - this has been fascinating.

John.