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In northern Europe at least, O. obscuratus is usually readily recognisable as it is the only frequently encountered species which has copious yellow or creamy markings.However, there are 2 pitfalls:
  1. Similar appearance of Ophion forticornis
  2. Dwarf forms of O. obscuratus that can superficially resemble other Ophion species

Distinguishing O. forticornis from O. obscuratus
O. forticornis:
  • is rarely collected in Britain (but is seemingly more frequent in some other countries)
  • is restricted to sand dunes
  • has a much greater gap between the ocelli and eyes
  • has a rather slenderer metasoma (abdomen)

Dwarf forms of O. obscuratus
O. obscuratus is known to occur in 3 distinct morphs in Britain (Brock, 1982):
  • spring form
  • 'autumnal dwarfs'
  • 'autumnal giants' – the most frequent form
Whether they really belong to the same species is not certain.The spring and dwarf forms have been reared from a variety of low-feeding moth larvae of the family Noctuidae, such as Mythimna and Lycophotia. The autumn (and winter) flying giants, have never been reared. The host must almost certainly be a very common, yet hardly reared noctuid larva.Dwarf forms of O. obscuratus that lack the yellow markings superficially resemble other Ophion species, such as:
  • O. crassicornis
  • O. parvulus
However, they can still be recognised as O. obscuratus by the:
  • yellow apex to the stigma
  • the noticeably paler stripes along the inner edges of the eyes


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