Saturday, 22 July 2017

Class of 2017 (1)

It poured with rain last night (great for the garden and Community Allotments) but I woke up early this morning. With no trap to examine, I did a little good housekeeping and added 11 newcomers since the end of May to my records list.

Here they are as a reminder to myself that when I feel that I am getting repetitive in this tenth year of the blog - as indeed I too often am - there are still regular novelties and surprises.

The characters in the multiple picture are, left to right, row by row: Grey Pine Carpet, Double Lobed, Bordered Pug, Ethmia dodecea, Campion, Toadflax Pug, Brown Silver-line, Calamatropha paludella and Donacaula forficella.

My computer's Layout facility won't do a multiple of more than nine, so the remaining newcomers have glorious slots of their own below: the micro Agapeta zoegana and the macro Lattice Heath.

Looking forward to more!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Beauty indeed

All moths are welcome here, so far as I am concerned (and I think that I speak for Penny too, albeit with due deference). But some lift the heart in a special way and one such came this morning: the modestly-sized but glorious Bordered Beauty.

It is near in family to yesterday's equally lovely Maiden's Blush, so I am a happy moth enthusiast at the moment. Neither moth is rare but you will be lucky to see them unless you have dealings with a light trap. No wonder that enthusiasm for the hobby is growing, and with it the country's knowledge of our moths.

The other feature of today's arrivals was that quite a few of them elected to slumber near to the moth trap but outside it, among them the Yellowtail above and the Common Footman at the foot of this post. In between are two of the many slumberers in the eggboxes: an Engrailed and an Iron Prominent.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Local lattice

A new moth for the second post running - a delicate little visitor which perched on my rather less delicate finger in the 'Let's pretend I'm a butterfly' stance, with its wings folded vertically rather than open or flat in its back.

I couldn't tell its identity straight off and the Moth Bible shows very few underwings. But an evening's leisurely look at suspects led to me to the Latticed Heath - like my last post's Double Lobed a common moth but not one which I have recorded either here in Leeds.

It seems to have triggered a trend for would-be butterflies among my moths. This morning, the trap included the Common Carpet above (and with its wings spread out after I had tickled it, below) and what a think is a second CC in the second picture below. 

Here are some of my other visitors on a damp and slightly colder night: a Red Carpet, that beautiful and beautifully-named moth the Maiden's Blush alongside a Ruby Tiger, a sample of the hundreds (literally) of opalescent Mother of Pearl micros which are by far my commonest moth at present, and the delkicate, related micros, the Ringed China-mark or Parapoynx stratiotata and the Small China-mark or Cataclysta lemnata (I think, so far as the latter is concerned; can't see what else it could have been). I like that word Parapoynx.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Newcomer, maybe

I sometimes wonder how many moths have visited my trap, and possibly even been examined by me, which were new for our garden but have not made it on to my list. One possible candidate is the Double Lobed, above and below, a common moth but one which I have not recorded - until this morning. I had been on the verge of passing by on the other side, the trap having several hundred residents, on the assumption that it was a Common or Lesser Common Rustic. But luckily I felt that the pattern wasn't quite the same, and I was right.

Here is the afore-mentioned Common or Lesser Common Rustic - genital examination or even dissection is needed to tell the closely-related species apart, and I'm not up for that. These are common as much hereabouts and there were at least a dozen in the eggboxes. The markings are similar to the Double Lobed and the moths are side by side in the Moth Bible, so perhaps my negligence over missing the DB until now, assuming that to have been the case, may be excused.

Another visitor which gave me great pleasure last night was a Black Arches, and exquisite op-art moth which is only locally common but apparently spreading North like many UK moth species. I tried to get a picture of its fine pink abdomen but it was too nervy. I'm putting in my blurred effort, though, because it gives a glimpse of the grey, satiny hindwings which are normally concealed.

I also welcomed my first Dusky Thorn of the year (first two pictures below) and nice examples of a Phoenix, a Lesser Yellow Underwing, a Campion and a Ruby Tiger. 

Here too is that fine and excellently identifiable pug moth, the Lime-speck which rivals the Chinese Character in the imitation bird-poo camouflage stakes. Update: except that it isn't. It's another new species for my garden: the Bordered Pug. What I thought was the Lime-speck's unmistakeable white blotch is placed differently. O what a fool am I! But at least this is a genuine self-correct, after a train journey spent musing over recent catches and moth pictures online. Finally, the patch of our vegetable garden where I placed the trap was full of 'outsider' moths roosting on potato plants and, in the case of the Brimstone moth below, asparagus.

Oh, and I have a final curiosity in the shape of this little moth pretending to be a butterfly. I shall spend a quiet hour later Googling the underwings of possible suspects.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Patience rewarded

I boasted yesterday that I was patient enough to wait for a Yellowtail to show the reason for its name, and today my patience was rewarded. For the third week running, there were several of the species in the eggboxes, all of them initially hunched as shown below, with any colour other than white - plus a couple of grey spots - modestly out of sight.

I have found from experience that teasing them with fragments of eggbox or twigs merely annoys them and sets them creeping about prior to flying away altogether. With this one, it seemed to be a simple, brusque movement of the box which caused the tail to shoot up.  Anyway, there it is - a male-only habit, not surprisingly you may think, and an enjoyable one to see.

Flying the yellow flag doesn't last long. I had time to take only a couple of shots with my iPad Mini before the tail was on its way back into hiding - pic of this above. Meanwhile, I was distracted and delighted by the presence of one of the Kitten moths in the trap for the first time this year: the beautifully coloured and patterned Poplar Kitten below. Like the parental-sounding Puss Moth and the rarer Feline, the Kittens all have thick, strokeable 'fur' on their heads, a feature which is generally reckoned to give the family its cat-related names.

Otherwise, I spent some time pondering whether this footman moth might be something unusual because of the folding crease down the centre of its back, as opposed to the normal resting posture of the Common Footman shown in the third picture below, or the spindlier Scarce Footman in the fourth picture. But I came to the conclusion that it was another Common one, just with the wings unusually tucked away.

Further visitors included this fine Silver Y, a Bloodvein (well-named) and the little Rosy Minor at the bottom. A good (and warm) night.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Poisonous visitors

It's Penny's birthday - Yazooo! Here is her birthday moth: Acleris forsskaleana with its appropriate loveheart badge.

There were no results in the way of eggs from my overnighting Leopard moth, but I had a nice surprise when I went to the vegetable garden with a friend to pick him a beetroot. There, bold as brass, were these four Cinnabar moth caterpillars, helpfully munching their way through my weeds. The absence of Leopard eggs was probably just as well from a horticultural point of view as the caterpillars sometimes do so much damage to fruit trees that they can be classified as an 'economic pest'. Our apples and plums can breathe again.

The Cinnabar caterpillars were relaxed about feeding openly because their vivid colours are a warning to birds and other predators that they are poisonous. Interestingly, the yellow/black combination is the one which we humans use for radiation hazards. There must be some interesting chemistry involved in the change of the caterpillars' colours to the equally striking red and greeny-black of the adult Cinnabar moth.

Last night's trap meanwhile attracted the first Gold Spot of the year, above, while a Brimstone moth added to the colour scheme across the eggboxes, especially as he or she was sleeping next to a ladybird.

We also had a  pallid Dun-bar, a moth which comes in five different colourways, a zebra-like micro which I will ID later and a Willow Beauty (I think; there are a number of these grey, governessy moths which much resemble one another).

As always, I scouted around the position of the trap this morning and was rewarded by nice Large Twin-spot Carpet and a Yellowtail (the latter once again obstinately refusing to stick up its tail. But I am patient).

Back in the trap, here is a Nut-tree Tussock, followed by what may be a Campion although the very similar Lychnis is more common. This is one for me to check with the experts on the Upper Thames Moths blog.  Then a Dingy Footman seeking refuge in an egg cone, a male Ghost Moth and finally an exhaused Ruby Tiger whose zonked-out state had the advantage of showing off the vivid red and spotted body which is usually modestly cloaked by the insect's folded wings.