Friday, 16 April 2010

Thank you, Jessie!

There were many fewer moths in the trap last night; two dozen Quakers, Drabs and Hebrew Characters compared with over 50 on average this week. So that's my contribution to data on the first volcano day, Ash Friday (if I can add to the huge outpouring of Icelandic puns and jests). It may have been the cold, of course, but one possible field worth checking is the effect, if any, of the ash cloud on moths and the moon. There was only the slenderest of sickles last night - thank you Woodlands junior school in Kent which has an excellent Moon Site online ( - and conceivably the ash rendered it invisible. Linking moths and the moon is not lunacy. Authorities as eminent as Prof Edmund Ford, who went up in an RAF balloon in quest of knowledge on the topic, have speculated that there may be a connection with moth navigation, and disorientation by light traps.

Today's picture is far away from this, albeit not as far as the moon. My niece Jessie has been in Borneo on a break from the iniquitous world of TV whose indie companies treat young researchers as underpaid slaves with no prospect of the commitment which I've enjoyed in my lucky life from employers. She promised to photograph butterflies, moths and bugs with her much greater skill and steadier hands than mine. Here's the first of a series, a strange little bird-like creature in a rumpled wedding gown on the hairy hand of one of Jessie's mates. I wonder if it had just hatched.

Oh, forgot to say earlier that I've relearned how to put links on the blog and have added those of Phil, Ben, Matt and other kindly experts whose own accounts are much worth reading.


Steve Thorpe said...

And yet my trap in central Derbyshire had 9 moths of 5 species! Maybe it wasn't as cold here?

MartinWainwright said...

Hi Steve! Lucky you - though thinking about it, nine seems quite a small tally. Did you mean 99? Do you share my impatience at dealing with the current tendency for them to be small and brown or grey? I don't think I'm a natural scientist.

That said, it would be interesting if as much trap data as poss was collated during the ash period. Maybe this will be done anyway by the county recording people?

warm wishes


Steve Thorpe said...

Ha ha! I know what you mean about brown/grey. However, this is my first trapping season, having been bitten by the bug too late last year to be able to catch anything. So for me, it's all still very exciting.
Last night I caught 5 Early Grey in one sitting! So yeah my total was only 9, but that can only get better??


Steve T

MartinWainwright said...

Hi again Steve

Five is most impressive - and you've inspired me to 'do' the Early Grey in today's post (Sunday). What sort of trap do you use? I sometimes wish that I had fewer than 30, which has been the minimum, just because of the problems of identification (at least for me..)

Good luck as it gets warmer too!

All best


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed spotting this little moth with Jessie. It was just like a little ball of tissue paper. Would have loved to have been around long enough to see its wings spread out and fledge into a full grown adult!


MartinWainwright said...

Hi Winnie - It must have been a great moment. We once got some Swallowtail chrysalises from a chateau in the Loire valley - the one with the lovely formal gardens, Villandry I think - and took them to the boys' primary school. They hatched in front of about 150 amazed children, dried their wings and then flew off over Rawdon Billing. If anyone with butterfly knowledge happened to see them, they would have been amazed cos Swallowtails tend not to visit Yorkshire. Thanks very much for commenting. M