Thursday, 29 April 2010

Heralding Spring

Oh good, another favourite has made its debut: the handsome Herald which features on the spine of Waring, Townsend and Lewington's Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland (British Wildlife Publishing), my Bible. I know I've mentioned this book many times but it cannot be praised too often.

Isn't the Herald fine? The patterning is not only complicated but brightly coloured, which makes a change from most of its worthy but somewhat dull companions at this time of year. Checking back through the blog for previous mentions of it, I've realised how early I'm trapping. Last year I had one night, on 26th April, and only eight in May, because of going on holiday to the US. In 2009, I didn't start at all until June. Interestingly, my previous mention of the Herald was on 20th September 2008; the species has two flying seasons: one now, after hibernation, and the other from August, when the children of this generation will hatch, until November, when surviving ones turn in for their long winter sleep.

One subject Waring and pals don't often mention is moths' legs. I'm so taken by the Herald's that I've added a picture of them: like spindly little zebra crossing: black,white,black white. As for the name, I haven't yet found a good guide to the fascinating subject of nomenclature among moths (see, for example, Ben's Comment on the post below), but I assume the Herald is partly derived from its early flying season, and partly from its vaguely mediaeval colouring and shape, like a tabard or upside-down shield. Its botanical name is a corker: Scoliopteryx libatrix, which actually dates back to Linnaeus in 1758.

Another demure new arrival: the Grey Birch, one of many British moths who resemble pallid figures from a Bronte or Austen novel. But welcome too, and if you click on the pic, you'll see how delicately lovely the patterning is. In the manner of a Jane Eyre governess, this one appears to be reading the eggbox batch number.

No comments: