Highlights

Dr Graham Rotheray, National Museum of Scotland Entomology Curator, highlights four interesting specimens from the Canna House Lepidoptera Collection.

Triphaena Pronuba

Large yellow underwing moth
(Noctua pronuba)

The yellow underwing moth occurs widely across the UK. Some years, numbers are boosted by migrants coming from the south. However, in recent decades the yellow underwing moth has undergone an unexplained decline. The Canna data can help us identify environmental factors that might explain this decline.

   
Arctia Caja Garden tiger moth
(Arctia caja)

The garden tiger moth is similar to the yellow underwing in that it has declined in abundance. Downturns like these are affecting many of Europe’s plants and animals. Analysing the variation in numbers of those species caught on Canna and looking to see how they match up to climate conditions and other environmental factors, such as availability of food plants, can help explain these declines and suggest what needs to be done to halt or reverse such losses. 
   
Hadena Caesia Grey moth
(Hadena caesia)

A specimen of this moth was caught and identified by Dr John Lorne Campbell in 1952. It was the first time this species had been recorded anywhere in Scotland; previously, it had only been recorded south of the border. 
   
Zygaena SSP Burnet moths
(Zygaena ssp)

Unusually, these are day-flying moths. Their distinctive red-and-black wings act as a defence against predators who read their colours as bad tasting. Dr Campbell recorded colonies in sheltered grassland on the cliffs of Canna and Sanday. Today, several colonies persist in this habitat on both islands.