Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Small Engrailed Moth

Two small, grey moths in one week! This one is the Small Engrailed Moth, Ectropis crepuscularia. It's very similar to the Half-wing Moth featured earlier on this blog. They are both active in colder weather and have caterpillars that feed on a wide variety of plants.
Small Engrailed Moth is quite a name for such a small animal, plus, of course, it gets its own scientific name. What does it all mean? "Engrailed" is a term from heraldry that indicates a scalloped line. Maybe the engrailed in this moth's name refers to the pattern along the wing edges. The species name crepuscularia must refer to the word crepuscular, which describes animals that are active at dawn and dusk. The genus name Ectropis is hard for me to decipher, though it has some familiar sounded components (which are derived from Greek): "ec" means outside or out from "trop" means attracted to, and "is" means a result of action, condition, or doctrine. But what's the meaning when they are all put together?
I shouldn't forget the "Small" part of the name. In the British Isles there is another almost identical moth, the Engrailed Moth, E. bistortata that differs slightly in appearance, flight time, and produces more than one brood per year; E. crepuscularia only produces one. There is enough overlap though that some consider the two moths to be one species. The range of E. bistortata is limited to the British Isles, while E. crepuscularia has a holarctic range; it can be found across continents in the northern hemisphere