Sunday, 11 April 2010

The benefits of early starts

It's been worth starting the trap in good time this year - nearly three weeks earlier than last and more than two months before I got going in 2008. The first night saw two new arrivals, although I had problems identifying one of them: the Satellite. This will sound odd to moth experts, because the Satellite has an extremely distinctive mark which gives it its name: a white blob with two little satellite ones on either side. Here it is right enough. But look at the colour of the moth in my trap, compared with the one from my unfailingly helpful Bible by Messrs Waring, Townend and Lewington,

The answer to the difference, I think, lies in the long life this moth will have led (and long may it continue, now that I have tucked it away to slumber under a leaf). Satellites hatch from cocoons underground in September and spend the winter as adult moths. So this one will have had to put up with the snow and icy temperatures just like us, and in the process its original brown brightness has dulled.

The other new arrival is this Twin-spotted Quaker, another moth named for the distinctive marks on its otherwise restrained and Quakerish plumage. I am just about to write a Guardian 'In Praise Of...' leader about the Quaker philanthropist and poverty expert Seebohm Rowntree, so I named this particular moth after him before leaving it to doze on. I'm also pleased that WT&L described it as 'more local' - ie rarer- north of the Midlands. So it has an extra interest as a new arrival here, in terms of the number of moths which seem very wisely to be moving North. If my identifications are correct, which as regular readers know is by no means certain, it joins lots of Common Quakers such as the one beside the Satellite in the main picture of this post.

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