Early Thorn

Drawn from my own photograph, which can be easier than peering into a bug box.
Drawn from my own photograph, which can be easier than peering into a bug box.

AT FIRST GLANCE you might think ‘butterfly’ as the Early Thorn, Selenia dentaria, is the only Thorn moth to hold its wings up in butterfly fashion.

You might be thinking that late July doesn’t qualify as ‘Early’ but this is a female of the second generation, which  usually has a larger tawny orange patch on its underwing than the February to May generation.

As the name suggests, she might well be looking for a blackthorn or hawthorn to lay her eggs on, there are plenty in the immediate vicinity, but the larvae will also feed on birch, alder, honeysuckle, sallow or bog-myrtle. They’re common in a wide variety of habitats including gardens, hedges and woods so they should feel at home here.

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  1. Hi Richard

    Just came across your lovely painting of the Early Thorn – a wonderful depiction!

    hope you are keeping fine. I’ve been snowed under sampling caterpillars in Richmond Park. I need a break! Can’t wait to start drawing and painting again.

    having JNW here to stay for a few days later this month.

    All the best and keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Tim,

      Thank you again for your advice on getting started – it’s taken a while to get up and running but Barbara and I are definitely making progress. I try to run the trap every time we have a dry night.
      I find that drawing, even from a photograph, is the best way to get an image of the moth into my mind. Yesterday we managed to identify three new species including the rather obscure looking Fanfoot and Dun-bar. Also I easily recognised the silver-Y from moth trapping years ago. It’s the first time that a couple of those have turned up this year.
      Best wishes to John, glad he’s getting over to see you,

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