Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)

The Hebrew Character is one of the commonest early spring moths, and is easily recognised by the black mark on each wing which supposedly looks like the Hebrew letter N. It can appear in late February but most sightings are in March or April, with a few still on the wing in May.

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This moth is attracted to light and can be found on the outside of lit windows, so it’s worth going out and having a look before bedtime, or even the next morning when they may be sitting motionless on or near the window-frame. This species is active on cold nights when few other moths are about.

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This one is a male as it has feathered antennae. Other than that the sexes look identical. The forewing length is about 15-17 mm (Waring and Townsend 2009). The larvae feed on a wide variety of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants and so the moth can occur in almost any kind of habitat. The larvae must be very numerous but they hide in the daytime, feeding only at night, and I’ve yet to see one.

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This photo is from a moth trap set by county moth recorder Andrew Masterman in Glen Nant in 2012. The moth on the left is an unusual form of Hebrew Character in which the “letter” mark is a similar brown to the rest of the moth, instead of a sharply contrasting black. On the right is the normal form.

Please send in your Hebrew Character sightings using the form below, or email sightings@lnhg.org.uk with the details if you prefer. If you are not sure of the identity of your moth, please send a photo to sightings@lnhg.org.uk, or put one on the LNHG Facebook page.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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*Moths caught in moth traps are dated to the evening the trap was set.  I normally do the same for moths found in the morning at rest on or near windows which had been lit for all or part of the night.

By filling in this form you consent to your record being passed on to the appropriate recording scheme.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
LNHG Biological Records Manager
Sightings so far:

17 Mar: Clive Craik had one in his moth trap at Barcaldine.

20 Mar: I had one to house lights, Taynuilt

24 Mar: Pat Blunsden had 2 in her moth trap on Seil.

26 Mar: I had one to house lights, Taynuilt

30 Mar: Jessie Wormell had one in trap at Benderloch

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