Looking like lichen

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 23 July 2010 08:31

On the theme of moths I caught these two species the other night by leaving the light on and the bathroom window open. They both feed on lichens as larvae and both look like lichens as adults. The top photo is the local Marbled Green, looking like a midget Merveille du Jour, this smart moth is not that common, is usually coastal and really puts its much commoner cousin, the Marbled Beauty to shame. The larvae live inside a silken 'domicile' according to 'Porter' so they don't need cryptic camouflage. There are many moths that feed on lichens as larvae but do not mimic them as adults, most of the footman, many of which are increasing probably due to improvements in air quality over recent years. Some moths, like the Merveille du Jour look like lichen as an adult but do not feed on lichen as larvae. it would be interesting to look at this group of moths as a suite of species and see if they have increased due to the increased presence of lichen. Perhaps being a convincing mimic though does not require large amounts of  the 'model' material in order to fool predators. As you can tell I find mimicry fascinating no doubt due to the lichen mimics being some of the most handsome moths we have.

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