Twenty-plume Moth

My first photograph of any description in 2012 is this backlit Twenty-plume Moth - Alucita hexadactyla, photographed on the window at home in Godolphin Cross while I listened to Wolves loosing to a referee assisted Chelski, 1 - 2!

This very common little moth has a wingspan of around 15mm and is the only representative of it's family currently known from the UK. The adult moth can be found throughout the year, including January, hence it's appearance during this admittedly mild mid winter period.

As with other plumes the wings of these micro moths are divided into numerous feathery fingers or sections, rather than being 4 "solid" looking wings. The larvae feed on the leaves & flower buds of honeysuckle, so it is no surprise that the adult moth, which is a night flyer & readily attracted to lights, frequently enters domestic homes.

What attracted me to this impromptu bit of macro photography was the way the back lighting picked out all the detail in the "feathers".The shot (below) was taken on the 2nd January 2012 with a Canon 400D, Tamron 90mm macro, set at 1.3 sec, f14, ISO 200, on a Manfrotto tripod

Twenty - plume Moth

Back in September 2011 we also had the slightly larger Plume moth - Emmelina monodactyla, (wingspan of around 23mm), visiting our bathroom which unlike the Twenty-plume Moth folds it's deeply divided wings together when at rest giving this highly distinctive "T" shape. The buff coloured adult moth has a pale central stripe running along the length of the abdomen which in turn has dark streaks along the centre line, (neither of which is particularly clear in my photograph). The larvae feed on bindweed which sadly is fairly rampant in one area of our front garden! (Below photographed in the back garden 10th September 2011, Canon 400D, Tamron 90mm, 1/8 sec, f11, ISO 200, Manfrotto tripod)

Plume moth - Emmelina monodactyla
The bind weed may well be the attraction for another occasional visitor to our garden, the ghostly looking White Plume Moth - Pterophorus pentadactyla, which is again fairly common and widespread, particularly along the coastal fringes of Cornwall, (this one was photographed near New Polzeath on the 28th June 2009, Canon 400D, Tamron 90mm, 1/400sec, f10, ISO 200, handheld). The forewings are each split into two "feathers" while the rear wings are split into three "feathers". The adults, with their wingspan of between 25 to 33mm, may be seen on the wing from May to August.

If you are interested in moths & butterflies in Cornwall, and/or have any identification queries regarding lepidoptera in general then you might find Cornwall Butterfly Conservation's excellent website a useful resource. The website's forum has many members with an extensive knowledge of moths which they readily share when responding to queries on the site. The CBC website can be found here:
Cornwall Moth Group also has it's own website at which aims to promote the recording & conservation of moths in the county.