Beautiful Carpet (Mesoleuca albicillata)
The Beautiful Carpet is a beautiful animal indeed. The ground colour is bright white. The forewings start off with an impressive shoulder: black, dark brown and grey bands and spots are painted generously. To follow is a deep chocolate brown band. The central part of the wing is white, except for a small greyish dot. The tops of the wings are almost white, but just before them is a dark brown big blob. This blob is repeated at the other edge of the wing, but this one is much smaller. Luckily there are no similar species around. The remarkable markings on the wing see to it that when in rest the moth does look like a bird's dropping. A phenomenon also found in many other moths, especially Tortrixes. Reaching a wingspan of some 34 to 38 mm this is quite a striking species.
The larva is green and may reach a length of some 25 mm. On the side is a redbrownish line running from the thorax, not the head, to the tail. On top some small red angular spots showing a whitish centre. The head is green with small brown speckles. The Beautiful Carpet has just one generation a year. The caterpillars are seen from from July to September. They'll eat at night and rest at day. Often they sit near or on the central vein of a leaf and are very hard to spot. In September they'll dig a small hole in the soil in which a cocoon is spun. In the cocoon pupation starts. The pupa overwinters and remains inactive for quite a long time, for the first moths are usually not seen before June next year. The caterpillars are found on brambles, raspberry and hazle.
The moths are on the wing from June to August. On the continent a very rare second generation may appear, flying in August en September. It is often difficult to photograph the Beautiful Carpet. It can be easily disturbed during day time when it is resting on the leaves of shrubs and trees. Often it is found on the host plant of the larvae. It will only fly away a short distance and then settle again at the underside of a leaf, preferring a dark spot, which is unfavourable for a photographer. And besides, brambles are not the most accessible of shrubs. Lights don't help much in this case as the moths are hardly ever attracted to it. The Beautiful Carpet is a rather uncommon species in England, Wales and Ireland, never appearing in great numbers. Quite a rare and very local species in southern and western Scotland. In other parts of Europe also a local and never abundant species.