Wednesday 29 February 2012

Beware the early Brindled Beauty

John Williams of Penclawdd sent me this photo a few days ago, and it spark some considerable debate amongst the county recorders. Whilst on wing markings it does look superficially like Brindled Beauty, the abdomen is clearly reddish with dark bands - a key feature of Pale Brindled Beauty.

This discussion has raised a couple of other points. First is that Pale Brindled Beauty consistently has a pale patch at the base of the antennae which the other two species (Small Brindled & Brindled) do not have. Colin Plant has also noticed that the colour of the antennae of the three species is consistently different:

Small BB (hispidaria): Antennae obviously yellow.

Pale BB (pilosaria): Antennae grey.

BB (hirtaria): Antennae black - significantly darker than PBB even in melanics.

"The colour of all three is striking to the naked eye in good light."

The other thing to come out of the discussion is that these species are not necessarily as obvious as they first appear, and that early records of Brindled Beauty should be re-examined! So if any of you have photos of 'early' Brindled Beauty please let me know.


  1. Hmm, interesting. I see that I have a record of BB, for 24th Feb 2009. The only other moths I got that night were a two Pale BB. Unfortunately, I didn't photograph it, so we'll never know.

    1. GMRG database: I see that there is only 3 records for Feb. (ME, DP and the late SRG), and 67 for March, and most of those are for mid to late month. MCP & me have only 4 March records for this species and unfortunately we didn't take any photos and I haven't got any wing-cards for BB either. However both MCP & myself are fairly confident that our initial ID was sound, and that our records are for BB. Although I cannot remember using the antennae formula. As Mark says, unless someone's got a photo or a specimen, we'll never really know.