Poplar Grey moth - Acronicta megacephala
Family - Noctuidae
Sub–family - Acronictinae (Dagger moths)
A dark grey night flying moth with mottled black forewings and pale stigmata, wingspan of 40–45mm (1.6–1.8in), the hindwings are white with dark veins, melanistic forms sometimes occur. Superficially similar to several other moth species, it can be difficult to identify, however the Grey–brown very hairy caterpillar of the Poplar Grey has a distinctive round white mark on its tenth segment, two reddish orange spots on segments two & three, four spots on segments four to nine & eleven.
Found throughout west Europe in woodland areas where Poplar, Willow and Alder species are found, common in the south of the UK its range extends to southern Scotland. Usually seen from mid May to early August in the UK, adults can be seen on various tree trunks during the daytime. Larvae feed on various Poplar species, and also possibly Willow, from July to September, over wintering as a pupa.
The sub–family common name of "Dagger moths" refers to black dagger–shaped markings on the forewings that are common in the family. The Sycamore and Grey Dagger moths are other "Dagger" species found in Brickfields Park. Other common Dagger species include the Dark Dagger, The Miller, Alder Moth and The Knot Grass.
The Poplar Grey is part of the Noctuoidea superfamily which now comprises just over 11,000 species after reorganisation of the some 20,000 species that were originally in the group. Noctuidae are commonly known as Owlet moths, there are however only five Owlet moth species grouped in the Mesogona genus.
Agassiz #73.046, Bradley & Fletcher #2278
Photo ©2002 M. Virtala
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