Sunday, 15 August 2010

Graveyard shift

A splash of colour in the trap this morning turned out to be this Sexton Beetle, known as 'Nature's undertakers' because of the efficient way they dispose of animal corpses. Any they find, they bury, and then use as a combination of food store and nest for their young. This one (which is playing dead after I tipped it from its eggbox) may have been on the lookout for yellow underwings, of which there were stacks among the other boxes, all very much alive. Also there was this formidably sized wasp which I have yet to identify (And now Dean has kindly done it for me. It's a Hornet, ugh. See Comments). It was comatose, or possibly dead (Sexton Beetles please note) so I placed it next to an ordinary wasp which was slumbering nearby. We are getting into wasp season, which annoys us mainly on account of their habit of licking our garden chairs with their sharp tongues to carry off tiny bits of wood for their pulp nests. The latter are wonderful creations, but I wish they could source their building material elsewhere.

Also around this morning were plenty of Riband Waves, prominent members of the Laura Ashley school of moth design. Here are the two best-known variations: the plain Idaea remutata which is commoner here in the North, and the banded aversata which is paying us a visit from its headquarters down South. Talking of which, I must go now, to help get things ready for a couple of guests from London. The sun is shining to welcome them, while I believe it's raining down there.

Latin names are a bit of a struggle, even for someone such as myself who studied and enjoyed the subject at school. So far as I can work out, the Idaea here is a reference to Mount Ida in Crete (and mythology; Zeus was brought up there), aversata means 'turned away' and remutata is related to changing things for the second time. What it all has to do with these small, pale and delicate moths is a mystery.


Anonymous said...

Martin, the unidentified wasp is an Hornet.

MartinWainwright said...

Oh thanks! I've just been outside to check and I'm not altogether sorry to say that it is dead, rather than sleeping. All v best as ever M