Friday, 17 February 2017

Back in action at last

Hello, World of 2017!

For the first time since Christmas, I lit the lamp last night and was rewarded by mothy visitors. Twice in January I had a go, but the weather was dismal, dank and chilly and nothing at all came to stay. It's a time of the year to clean equipment, update records and curl up in front of the fire and go to sleep. Much like a moth when it lands in one of my eggboxes, with the warmth of my mercury vapour bulb just overhead.

I've also been catching up with friends post-Christmas, including one couple whom we're seeing next week after an interlude of 30 years. This is thanks to exchanging cards, through which I learned that they too run a moth trap, and in a truly spectacular place. Do you recognise it from the photo at the head of this post?

It is Lindisfarne or Holy Island in Northumberland, with its spirited little castle atop of a rocky bluff. Coastal moth traps such as this are often extremely interesting as they attract immigrant species just making a landfall. Imagine flying, or being blown on the jetstream, all the way from the Continent or beyond and then spending your first night in an eggbox. A parallel, ironically, to many human migrants who get cooped up on landing.

Last night's visitors to my own trap were not spectacular - three male Pale Brindled Beauties. Male and Pale, a critical term when applied to the inappropriate but tenacious majority of people on powerful bodies of all sorts in the UK. But a compliment in the context of this delicately-patterned night-flyer.

The moth is also interesting because it is one of a small number of species whose females cannot fly. They spend their short lives on tree trunks waiting for a male to alight and do the business, thus starting this modest life cycle off again. Not fair, say I. But I am not in charge of evolution.

Female of the species - courtesy UK Moths

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