Posted by: Ross Gardner | July 23, 2016

Jewel by name, jewel by nature

Common Emerald (Hemithea aestivaria).  Ross Gardner 2016.

Common Emerald (Hemithea aestivaria). Ross Gardner 2016.

I found this little treasure, lured in by the bathroom light.  The Common Emerald is a jewel by name and by nature.  It is one of several species of Emerald, all geometers and closely related, but belonging to several different genera.  Most of them very ably live up to the name.  The Large Emerald is substantial and stunning, with a wingspan of up to 5cm, the papilio (Latin for butterfly) in its scientific name – Geometra papilionaria – aptly giving reference to this striking moth’s resemblance to its butterfly relations.  The Little Emerald is at the other end of the scale, half the size and a pale, almost frosted green.  Some like the Sussex and Small Grass Emeralds are rare insects.

The Common Emerald, I am happy to say, lives up to its name both by its appearance and the frequency of its occurrence, although only in the southern half of Britain (the Large and the Little however, are found across the UK).  With a decidedly catholic taste of trees and shrubs on which to lay eggs, it is a species often to be met with in the garden environment, not to mention an indoor light left on overnight.

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