Amata phegea, aka the Nine-spotted moth

Nine-spotted moth, Amata phegea, on a Knautia drymeia, Hungarian Widow Flower

This is Amata phegea, aka a Nine-spotted moth. Yes, I counted.

Found primarily near the edges of forests in central Europe, I spotted this one on Knautia drymeia, or the Hungarian Widow Flower, along a narrow hiking path near the Soča River Gorge, near Kobarid, Slovenia. Together, they form a sublime color combination, one fitting near the edge of one of Europe’s most beautiful rivers.

More from iNaturalist:

It reaches a wing span of 35–40 millimetres (1.4–1.6 in). Its wings are blueish black with white spots. A further feature is the prominent yellow ring at the abdomen. The black antennae have white tips.

Similar-looking moths include Amata ragazzii (Turati, 1917) and Zygaena ephialtes (Linnaeus, 1758). Z. ephialtes is in the family Zygaenidae and is unpalatable to birds; the nine-spotted moth imitates its appearance (mimicry).

This Amata phegea was also quite patient and confident, allowing me to get close enough for a few clear shots with a short lens.

The flower?

Knautia is a genus whose flowers have typically morbid common names, including Meadow Widow Flower (Knautia arvensis), the Long Leaf Widow Flower (Knautia longifolia) and the Forest Widow Flower (Knautia maxima). Hungarian Widow flower is also sometimes spelled Knautia drymeja.

I’m assuming those nicknames mean that these are poisonous, but after a cursory search couldn’t find any confirmation that they are indeed toxic. Still, I wouldn’t recommend tossing them into tea.

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For the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 957th straight, was snapped near the Soča River Gorge, near Kobarid, Slovenia, on 08 July 2016.

Many thanks to Slovenian botanist and naturalist Domen Stanič for the wildflower ID. Check out his blog Carniolicum, where he documents the field work he conducts in Slovenia, northeast Italy, and other regions of central and eastern Europe.

 

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