Thank you, i think you are correct in your identification. I have just asked my wife if it was green but she now tells me it was white - the phone flash seems to make it green - so good question and sorry for the erroneous colour in the photo.
Thanks again for help and quick reply.
Ah, well that helps.
There are a lot of white plume moths!
I think Adaina microdactyla is probable
But I can't rule out the rarer Euleioptilus carphodactyla
General info on plume moths
Many thanks for the interesting links.
It's fantastic that with the internet and interested helpful experts like yourself we can get this sort of query resolved so easily ! I have often looked at an insect in the garden and thought I wonder what that is but done nothing about it. Last night I thought I would ask and am amazed to get such quick results !
I remember from my school days there being a systematic way to identify flowers from colour, petals shape etc using a guide book. Is there an equivalent sort of system/guide that would have helped me identify this insect myself ?
If the answer is a using a detailed book that illustrates lots of British insect species, can you recommend a good one ?
There are books, some of which contain identification keys.
There are also excellent online resources.
With both, to get the most out of them, you'd need to spend a bit of time getting to grips with the terminology and at least the basics of the taxonomy.
Then it becomes a bit easier.
But with large groups of animals, such as moths, experience helps a lot.
...Hence the value of forums such as NaturePlus.
I'll see if I can come up with a list of resources later today.
The NHM provides a place to start, with its 'Identification guides and keys'
In common with other 'places to start', however, it is a bit patchy in its coverage (but hoping for a comprehensive guide to all life on earth is assking a bit much).
Wikipedia is more complete in coverage, and allows you to drill down (starting with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal if you're interesting in animals rather than plants or minerals). But it is planet-wide, not UK-specific, does not give ID keys (in general), and although it may list many species, many of them may not be explained in detail or at all.
So if you're interested in a particular part of the world, and/or a part of the animal kingdom (eg.), you're better off heading straight for something that's entitled appropriately.
For UK moths, for instance, www.ukmoths.co.uk is excellent; for UK butterflies, www.ukbutterflies.co.uk is also excellent. When I state 'excellent', I am thinking primarily in terms of:
- completeness of taxonomic coverage (all species and preferably all subspecies)
- completeness of geographical coverage
- good quality text, diagram and photographs, incl. distribution, periods during the year when species occur in the various stages of their life cycle, food plants, scarcity/commonness
- keys and/or descriptions of how to distinguish similar species
(If you want to find other information, such as literary or poetic references to species, look somewhere else.)
With some web sites, there may not be any ID keys, but they may have a photo gallery, perhaps arranged systematically (so similar or related species are close to each other). They can be very effective at helping you home-in on your the species you're trying to ID.
Where there are keys, they will make lots of reference to terms describing the particular type of creature. Unless you devote time to learning the terminology (which mainly boils down to anatomy), such keys may prove too difficult to use. So although keys may be more logical and give a higher chance of making a reliable ID quickly, that'll happen only in the hands of relative experts.
But you may be able to do both: use a key to start with, perhaps to get you as far as family, then photos.
You also have to recognize:
- some species are very difficult to tell apart; microscopic examination of genitalia may be necessary
- there may not be expert agreement on particular species being species or subspecies (or other taxonomic rank) - hence the systematics of a particular group may be in a state of flux (the genus Hipparchia in butterflies, eg.). A consequence of that is discrepancy between different resources, including book or internet.
- rare species may be under-represented; ie. photos may be lacking (then you can consult a resource that is wider in its geographical scope - maybe the species is rare in the UK but common in Europe)
- the specimen you are IDing may not be representative of its species: it may be an subspecies or aberration, which may not be dealt-with in the particular resource you're using (www.ukbutterflies.co.uk has excellent representation of subspecies and aberrations)
- online resources, just like books, can have mistakes.
So: even if you have resources with keys and photos, confident identification is often not easy.
Some other more-general UK-specific resources:
- British Insects and Spiders - http://www.wildlifeinsight.com/Insight/?page_id=383
- Lists of insects of Great Britain - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_insects_of_Great_Britain
- best insect websites - http://www.countryfile.com/countryside/best-insect-websites
Some specific resources that I use, with a bias towards the UK:
- British bugs - http://www.britishbugs.org.uk/
- Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society - http://www.bwars.com/
- ID guide for 6 common British bumblebees - http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/bombus/bumblebeeid.html
- ID guide for British bumblebees - http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/bombus/key_british_colour_info.html
- Symphyta or saw flies and wood wasps - http://www.bumblebee.org/invertebrates/Hymenoptera1.htm
- 199 species of caddis fly in the British Isles - http://www.naturespot.org.uk/taxonomy/term/19486
- British dragonflies - http://www.british-dragonflies.org.uk/content/dragonfly-and-damselfly-identification-help
- Carabidae of the world (beetles) (excellent photos, searchable incl. by country) - http://carabidae.org/index.html
- beetles - http://www.thewcg.org.uk/ (Watford Coleoptera Group)
- beetles - http://markgtelfer.co.uk/beetles/ (excellent)
- UK burnet moths - http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/message/29325
- UK moths - www.ukmoths.co.uk
- UK butterflies - http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk (excellent site by Peter Eeles et al.)
- British Lepidoptera (by Chris Lewis) - http://britishlepidoptera.weebly.com/index.html (a lot of good tech info and diagrams re anatomy, taxonomy, and a technical key)
- UK butterfly caterpillars - http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species_family.php?name=all&stage=larva
- UK moth caterpillars (small selection) - http://www.mothscount.org/uploads/caterpillar%20lft.pdf
- British snails - http://www.conchsoc.org/aids_to_id/idbase.php
- UK horsetails - http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/message/29355#29355
- UK marine life - http://www.britishmarinelifepictures.co.uk/species-list
- UK fossils - http://www.christraxon.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/index.html
- The echinoid directory (NHM) - http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/echinoid-directory/index.html
You will have noticed that I have mentioned mainly online resources.
Books covering similar scopes exist. But books have many drawbacks: searching is horribly inefficient; they are inevitably out of date; you can't copy and paste from them; you can't make efficient references (links) to places within them from an electronic document; they can be expensive; they are difficult to take with you in the field and/or abroad; etc. Don't get me wrong: I love books: real in-your-hand books that have a smell and history as well as information. I have spent decades building a collection of books on Viola (my speciality). I use reference books frequently, including when answering ID questions on NaturePlus. They have their place, but a great deal can be done more efficiently using online resources.
And in 'online resources, I include, of course, forums like NaturePlus - where you gain access to that other great resource - experience.
Best of luck,