Spear Moth, or Argent and Sable
This moth could be mistaken for
Mesoleuca gratulata, though it flies in the summer rather than the
spring. In this species there is a white band through the middle of the forewing,
and, projecting outwards from the middle of the band is a characteristic white
spear-shaped mark, which accounts for the North American name of the species.
The name Argent and Sable was given by the eighteenth century English lepidopterist
Moses Harris (who also made some of the first illustrations of Canadian Lepidoptera),
who wrote: "This Moth, which is esteemed a Curiosity, is very scarce, nor
has any Body been so lucky as to discover either the Caterpillar or the Chrysalis."
Let us hope that he can now log into this Web site, so that he can see the shiny
and rather stubby caterpillar, which could be mistaken for a noctuid until its
legs are counted. There are several colour forms - brown, olive or black. In
Britain and much of North America the foodplant is given as Birch; here, where
it is by no means "very scarce", it is usually found on Alder. The
The scientific name has sometimes been given as Eulype hastata.