Sunday, 20 August 2017

Flame Shoulder check

From Thursday night's catch this Flame Shoulder looked quite different to the one it happened to be next to. I realise the chance of it being a Radford's Flame Shoulder is almost nil but would appreciate confirmation. The third image is the underside of the dead moth with the wings removed.

Other than this the catch consisted of 40 species but with relatively large numbers of the commoner moths. 70 Large Yellow Underwing, 25 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, 25 Flame Shoulder and 45 Setaceous Hebrew Character.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.


  1. Hi Andy
    Can't tell anything from this. Can I ask the purpose of dismembering it?

  2. Sorry I was trying to look for white hairs on the abdomen after looking at the hindwings. I have still got the remains in the freezer if it was considered worth further examination but I expect it is just a Flame Shoulder variation.

  3. Firstly, I’m pleased that you were prepared to retain the moth, but taking moths apart never helps. For examination of the genitalia we simply remove the abdomen, usually from the dried set specimen. If you do it correctly it pops off very easily without any damage to the rest of the moth.

    Secondly, you have photographed the underside of the abdomen, whereas the white hairs are on the upperside, i.e. the scientific name shouldn’t be taken too literally. In the Field Guide, the white hairs character is further explained by the statement that this is normally covered by the wings, which wouldn’t be the case if the hairs were underneath. In your second photograph, the base of the abdomen upperside is obscured but it looks pretty grey and I don’t think this is likely to be a Radford’s, which usually turns up in the autumn, even as late as November after Flame Shoulders are over. By all means keep the bits for later examination, though. So far Radford’s have (as far as I know) all been on or near the south coast but it seems to be increasing so we do need to be aware of it. Atropos Flight Arrivals and Steve Nash’s Migrant Lepidoptera twitter feed are the best places to find out what has been coming in, as an indication of what we should be looking out for.

    The only clear illustration of the differences between the two species I can find is here and here

  4. Thank you for your detailed reply. I have in the past made the mistake of releasing micros that should have been kept for dissection so I'm trying to be more careful now. I had decided the moth could not possibly be a Radford's based on my location and the time of year and was about to throw it away which is partly why I was so brutal with the specimen. I also did get confused about where the white hairs would be located. The links you suggest certainly show really clear images of the two species and I think confirm that my specimen is indeed an ordinary Flame Shoulder. Thank you for your time and effort and unless you think it is worth checking the genitalia I will dispose of the specimen.


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