Prior to this summer I had never seen a Silver Y Moth before, but I saw quite a few Silver Ys this year (either that or I saw the same indivdual lots of times). A couple of times I found one in the house, and so tried to get some 'studio' shots of it.

Silver Y Moth with curled up Proboscis

Unlike most moths, the Silver Y is a day flying moth (and also a night flier), so trying to get it onto a piece of paper and maneuver it into a position suitable for a photo didn't work too well, as the moth would just fly away. I did eventually manage to get a number of 'studio' shots of the Silver Y moth by putting out a teaspoon with honey, which it then stood on and supped away at the honey.

Silver Y Moth (Autographa gamma)

The Silver Y, or Autographa gamma, to give it its scientific name, is named after the distinctive marking on its wings that looks like the letter y or Greek letter γ (Gamma). While the marking is distinctive, it is not exclusive to the Silver Y. The Scar Bank Gem (Ctenoplusia limbirena) has a very similar marking, and the markings of the Scarce Silver Y (Syngrapha interrogationis), Plain Golden Y (Autographa jota), and the Beautiful Golden Y (Autographa pulchrina) can sometimes form a y shape (though not always). Unfortunately I don't have any photos of those moths 🙁

Silver Y Moth (Autographa gamma) wing showing the y marking

Rather strangely, one day I took 2 photos of a Silver Y feeding on Marigolds, and in both shots the Silver Y is just taking off. I have heard that if you have your flash in E-TTL mode, the pre-flash can cause the moth/butterfly to jump, so they are just taking off during the actual photo. But in my case I was using Manual Flash, so there was no pre-flash.

Photograph of Silver Y Moth (Autographa gamma) taking off / in flight

Either getting the two shots of the Silver Y taking off was co-incidence, or it must have heard the shutter opening and got spooked, but that would be an extremely quick reaction time. If you're wondering how I can be sure that the flash wasn't in E-TTL mode (where it would have fired a pre-flash), I checked the EXIF using ExifToolGUI, and in the Maker Notes section the value of 'FlashBits' is 'Manual, External' (plus I don't use E-TTL with the MT-24EX flash anyway).

Unfortunately the Silver Y feeds and moves on from one flower to another very quickly, making getting any shots of it where it's not sitting on a spoon eating honey quite difficult. Hopefully I will see them again next summer and be able to try and get some 'environmental' shots.


2 Responses to Silver Y Moth (Autographa gamma)

  1. Very cool images & video! I came here doing some research for a blog post of my own where I have a video of a moth enjoying some sugar water: National Moth Week: Mmm… Sugar Water! [VIDEO]. I never knew they had such interesting tongues! You might also be interested in

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