Moth of the Moment – The Bristly Nun

The moth mothers often abbreviate as the SHC, the Setaceous Hebrew Character, Xestia c-nigrum, turns up a lot in scientific traps from late summer into the autumn. The name refers to a marking on its forewings that resembles the Hebrew letter, nun, and the setaceous means “bristly” and refers to the hairs around the character. Hence my tongue-in-cheek reference to it being the Bristly Nun. The setaceous separates it from a distant relative but fellow noctuid, the spring-flying Hebrew Character, Orthosia gothica, it has the nun, but is clean-shaven and so lacks those bristles.

Setaceous Hebrew Character, Xestia c-nigrum

The SHC also flies in its first brood from May to June, but the second brood seems to be far more numerous August to September. You can see from my records for 2019 here that I’ve seen hundreds, with a peak in August of well over 100 on a single night. Nothing compared to the numbers of fellow noctuid the bombastic Large Yellow Underwing, Noctua pronuba. Apart from subtle variation in marking definition and some size difference, the SHCs mostly look a like. Again, in contrast to N. pronuba, which can vary considerably in their choice of browns and greys.

Anyway, there were no NFY (new for year) moths in the trap this morning, so I focused on the SHC on a whim and placed a small tribe of those from the haul on to my trusty chunk of mossy and lichen-covered bark for a quick photoshoot and a macro closeup or two.

Author: 雷竞技官网

Award-winning freelance science writer, author of Deceived Wisdom. Sharp-shooting photographer and wannabe rockstar.