Silver Y Moth (Autographa gamma)

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georgedingwall
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Silver Y Moth (Autographa gamma)

Post by georgedingwall »

Hi all,

I was wandering round the garden looking for some butterflies to shoot, but the sun had just gone in and ther weren't any about.

I was sitting near an empty Buddleia bush when this moth landed on the bloom that was closest to me.

The inset image is of the same individual, and I've included it to show why it's name is Silver Y. You can clearly see the mirror image white-ish letter Y on each forewing. The wingspan is about 20 mm.

Bye for now.

D200 with 150mm sigma macro lens
1.4 X teleconverter
SB800 flash
1/500th sec F8 ISO 100
Last edited by georgedingwall on Wed Mar 05, 2008 1:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
George Dingwall

Invergordon, Scotland

http://www.georgedingwall.co.uk/

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

Very nice -- thanks for posting!

Pictures of moths like this are often labeled as being species "Autographa gamma". But actually there are many species of genus Autographa and related moths that look very much the same. (See here for some examples.) Some of them are economic pests, for example the Alfalfa Looper (Autographa californica) in my area.

The Buddleia bushes around my deck are often visited by moths like this in the evenings. I don't know exactly which ones they are, but I like to watch them too. In the mountains around here, other moths that look like these fly around at high noon, nectaring on various other flowers.

--Rik

georgedingwall
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Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:15 am
Location: Invergordon, Scotland
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Post by georgedingwall »

Hi Rik,
rjlittlefield wrote:Very nice -- thanks for posting!

Pictures of moths like this are often labeled as being species "Autographa gamma". But actually there are many species of genus Autographa and related moths that look very much the same.
--Rik
That Moth Photographer's Site is a great resource. It has gone into to my favourites. I found a link on this site to a similar UK site. I'm sure that will come in handy in the future.

http://ukmoths.org.uk/index.php


I based the identification on the Collins Field guide that I have - Complete British Insects. (Actually it is not complete - but that's another story). Almost a third of the book is devoted to moths, and it only quotes 3 examples of Autographia and only a single example of "Autographa gamma".

When I compared the moth in my image with the book, it was so similar that I felt comfortable giving it as the identity.

I see hundres of moths everyday, but rarely get the opportunity to see them up close like this one.

Thanks for the info and the links.

Bye for now,
George Dingwall

Invergordon, Scotland

http://www.georgedingwall.co.uk/

Ken Ramos
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Post by Ken Ramos »

Excellent image there George. :D That is one beautiful moth, as shown in your inset. I seldom see many moths around here, unless I leave the front porch light on in the evenings. Maybe I should do that more often and have a look every now and then. The links presented by yourself and Rik are quite handy, however, I prefer the one from the UK as it presents the whole moth, as I would normally see one and for maybe exacting identification, the one Rik posted. Thanks George! :D

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

A brief digression about ID's...

I didn't mean to sound like I was disagreeing with George's ID. Given a) where he lives, and b) that only a few species of Autographa apparently live in that same place, and c) that those few species seem pretty distinctive (as indicated by the UKMoths link he gives), then Silver Y = Autographa gamma seems quite likely.

Elsewhere, and with other bugs, ID's get a lot more problematic.

What I like about the mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu site is not that it helps to narrow the possibilities, but that it helps to widen them.

Most field guides can show only a few representative species of insects. Using those, it is very easy to fall into the trap of "Oh, my bug looks just like that Onegenus onespecies, so that must be exactly what it is!"

In contrast, a comprehensive atlas like the mothphotographersgroup often shows lots of species that look so much alike one is almost forced to realize "Oh, dear! I guess I've got something in this group, but I can't tell exactly what it is."

In dealing recently with the spruce budworms, I was reminded of a closely related issue: variation between individuals. When I look at the collection of moths shown in picture 3 here, and try matching those moths against the pictures shown at http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.e ... e19b.shtml, my first thought is "Gosh, look at all the different kinds of moths at the base of that one light pole!" But the entomologist who took the pictures assures me that the moths on the light pole are all the same species.

I've said it before, but it's worth repeating...
The very hardest thing for me to learn -- it took many years to really sink in - is that many times it is simply not possible to exactly identify an insect from a picture, sometimes not even from an actual specimen.

If you look at my web page, you will see something identified as "a Sulphur butterfly (Colias, species unknown)". In the area where I live, there are perhaps a half-dozen different species of Colias that all look so much alike, they can be separated only by specialists looking at many specimens taken from the same time & place. Again just in my area, I can think of at least seven other groups of butterflies that can be almost as difficult (Speyeria, Polygonia, Cercyonis, Icaricia, Euphydryas, Callophrys, Euphilotes) -- and then there are the "little brown skippers", about which many of my butterflying friends just laugh and give up.

So don't feel bad, if you have trouble putting a name on something. Just stick on a good general name and let anybody who cares, try to figure out the exact species. (Sometimes I care, sometimes I don't -- I think it depends on how many other puzzles I have had to solve recently.)
OK, so I guess it wasn't all that brief of a digression. :D But maybe (I hope?) all these words make my point more clear.

--Rik

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