Lepidoptera The Shark Moth – Cucullia Umbratica
The Shark is a very common moth, to be found everywhere on palings in June, but the colour of its wings so closely resembles that of oak and other light-wood fences that detection is not so easy as with most other moths.
The fore wings are grey, and marked with longitudinal dark lines, the principal of which is a line from the middle of the base to about the centre of the wing. The wing rays are also darker than the ground colour. The hind wings are greyish white or brownish grey.
The caterpillar is very dark brown, with orange spots on the back and along the spiracles. It feeds on sow-thistles (Sonchus oleraceus, S. palustris, and S. arvensis) and sleepwort (Lactuca virosa) at night from July to September, and hides during the daytime among the leaves that lie close against the ground. When disturbed it does not roll into a ring or feign death like many others of its kind, but wriggles about most vigorously as if to repel its foe.