Tuesday, 31 August 2010
It has gone very cold overnight. There were moths in the trap, but nothing to compare with this spectacular visitor to Tom and Abi, my son and daughter-in-law in Mexico City. Before I go on any further, btw, you must check out Abi's range of home-made cards on her fledgling website http://lorisandb.blogspot.com/ Order now! Anyway, in between these and other occupations, T and A have already grown blase about hummingbirds visiting the flowers on their balcony. With luck they will also get used to calls from Swallowtails like this. It looks very like the 'British' Swallowtail (hardly ever seen in Britain, mind, outside the Norfolk Broads and seldom even there) and the version which Penny and I saw on Paxos. But, like most American things, bigger. Here it is again, getting really stuck in to the Mexican version of a petunia.
I think, after a little Googling and Wiki-ing, that it's a Tiger Swallowtail although nothing is ever simple. The United States has four slightly different variants of this one species: the Eastern Tiger, Western Tiger, Canadian Tiger and even Appalachian Tiger. On the score of uncertainty, I am very taken with this comment in the preface to Tom Tolman and Richard Lewington's marvellous (really marvellous) Collins Butterfly Guide which my mother-in-law Dilys has just given me. In a tribute to the late Lionel Higgins and Norman Riley, whose British and European butterfly guide the new book effectively replaces, Tolman says of Higgins, with whom he worked on butterfly identification:'I was impressed by his uncommon, although tacit regard for the need for circumspection in the pursuit of science: indeed, I do not believe we ever provided a complete solution to any problem.' Words which climate scientists (and, even more, environmental journalists) would do well to take on board.
One humble pic from the trap, meanwhile. I know I featured it last week, but the Gold Spot is a very attractive moth. Also there were a Silver Y, many assorted yellow underwings, the odd Beauty and a Setaceous Hebrew Character. Oh, and an alarming number of wasps. They chew our garden furniture to build, or at this time of year presumably repair, their papery nests, and this is a pain.