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These are the only footmen I have ever seen other than 2 Red-necked Footmen I recorded at home- the above ones were in Co Wicklow 5 years ago. Can you tell me what it is about their shape that isnt right for Common? Its a long time ago but I think I saw one end up with wings rolled around it quite a bit more. These pics are of moths that had just settled after coming to a house light. These are the only 2 pics of them I have.
Here's a comparison photo if that helps:
Easy to rule out Scarce. And it's not common as the wings seem just a little too rounded and the colours are a little off.
Dingy would be even more rounded and would have less contrast will colour.
This left me with Buff. The legs seem a little darker and more chunky which generally favours Buff.
It's a close call but it does pretty much come down to the resting position of the moth, to me the moth looks settled and still in the photos and if it were Common I'd expect them to be rolled in more (almost a straight costa, take the images on UK Moths for example).
I can sense people aren't convinced!
It's quite hard to explain, I think some people call it 'jizz', from seeing the photos I knew straight away they're not Common Footman - I suppose I catch hundreds of these each year and am quite use to them.
I've had a little look in the books to try and back-up my ID.
As you probably know the species dimorphic; the all buff form and the form with grey patch in the centre of the wing.
One separating feature is the amount of grey - on Common Footman the thorax is as grey as the rest of the wing. In Buff the thorax is usually the same buff colour as the head, although it can be grey also. The point is, Common Footman always has a grey thorax.
It's quite hard from a photo to get a feel of the size and shape of the moth but this one looks quite chunky to me, I always get the feeling Common is a more delicate moth.
As mentioned earlier, the legs are coal-black all over from what I can see of this moth - this is feature which generally favours Buff Footman (but some overlap). The legs also appear more chunky and twig-like - again Common tends to have more delicate looking legs.
The shape of the wing is another thing, Common Footman generally has a straight costa when sitting normally. However of course, as you mention above, if the moth was not feeling in a helpful mood, it could sit different. But the way the moth is sitting to me looks more typical of Buff Footman.
This image illustrates my points quite well, Buff:
Compared with, Common:
My points are all a little 'circumstantial', as some of these features do overlap.
Shame you didn't get shots of the underside - something to check if you come across any more ambiguous cases though!
I think it may be hard to be definite in terms of recording. But for what little it's worth, it's a definite Buff Footman in my mind!
I should have responded last night and I was out all day today- I had a good look at the little 4 species pic thing you gave. I did take a bit of convincing(I havent read your new post but want to respond now!)
I also looked at the species in UKmoths. I was fairly sure that it was common but I think I was wrong.
Regardless of anything else, as far as I can see and as you have pointed out, the thick black legs are found on only 1 Footman species and its Buff Footman. Added to that, despite the greyness of the wings on my 2, the thoraxes on mine are mostly if not all buff-yellow.
Sorry I didnt get back to you sooner or remember to go back to this ob. this evening. I think you are right with Buff Footman, the legs alone make it that.
If you mean by your points being circumstantial that they are difficult to convey or communicate and just based on familiarity I disagree. Once looked at closely certain things are very clear and differentiation is quite possible.
I had to look at those legs again to make sure shadows werent making them look darker and thicker than they actually were. I dont think shadows are playing tricks. The legs are thick, black and as you say twig-like. The thoraxes(the one on the right is balding but still) are buff. The wings dont appear slender enough to be common or straight enough down the leading edge. My one on the left in particular has a buff hue over the grey patch. Just now- because you have pointed certain things out and because I have looked at them enough(a lot) I think I get it.
Glad I can help; and at least now you'll have a really good idea at what fine details to look for whenever you next catch one, as will I!
One thing I may not have made clear before is that the dark grey form of Buff Footman (which is a female), this is one which is really quite similar to Common Footman, as we've seen here, having grey central area with thin yellow margins.
Anyway this look-a-like form of Buff has the dark underside (and hindwings), unlike Common always which has light underside. However this doesn't apply to the normal, lighter, forms of Buff Footman (males), which also have the light underside. This is my understanding of it anyway.
I must say I don't catch many Buff Footman in the garden at all, but thousands of Common! I'm looking forward to exploring some of these features carefully next summer with some live specimens in-hand.
Check out this example of an Irish Buff. The shape and legs are the same as mine but the wing colouration and shape of buff edging is quite different, maybe just a male and mine female. I have been told that some Irish moths vary considerably from British examples of the same species. I wondered if that was part of the issue with the moths in this observation when I was still convinced these were commons. It was the broad yellow leading edge and the fact that it narrowed away to nearly nothing at the tip that had me convinced these were commons. I do now think you are right and they are Buffs.
Buff Footman is very common in Wicklow, south of Dublin- where these are from. In the north it seems to have only been recorded twice ever, one of those was in 04 and quite close to me so maybe with a bit of luck I will record it close to home myself.
Cathal, yes that is certainly a male whereas I'm pretty sure your two at the top are female but I'm not absolutely 100% on that.
Interesting to hear about the possible geographical differences, something easily forgotten about but always something to bear in mind...
Lat/Lng: 53.023, -6.267
OS grid ref: SG139558