Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Three in a row

Autumn is arriving. If we didn't know that from the uneasy weather and first loose leaves drifting down, then the trap is a reminder. On cue, the moths of early autumn are arriving, among them three of these handsome but furtive Black Rustics. The moth is welcomely distinctive; the bulk of each night's catch at the moment is still largely brown, increasingly frayed and battered and more often than not with a yellow underwing. The Black Rustic is dark but glossy and, if you look carefully, subtly patterned. The second one has had an encounter with a bird or bramble, I think, rather than a slight variation in its creamy-gold 'eyelid' marking.
It is also the season of the lazy wasps. I am tempted to squash them all underfoot when I empty the trap because they are so helpless and I share most people's instinctive association of wasps with stings. But it is years and years since I was stung by a wasp, and Penny has found an oil which stops them licking our garden furniture to construct their nests. So I think virtuously: what have they done to me? And let them go, along with the moths.

Stop Press: Thanks to Worm's Comment, I've checked back down the posts and, lo and behold, I reported the Black Rustic on 14 September last year and 14 September the year before (see Comments by clicking below). Yo, this is real science. What a reliable insect. I've changed the title of this post from Small Dark Stranger as a result.


worm said...

I think the black rustic looks a bit sinister! (But I'm sure he's not!)

regarding the wasps - at what time of day do you think they enter the trap? Do they fly at night, or is it during dawn that they stumble in?

MartinWainwright said...

Hi worm!

You're dead right about the sinisterness. When I first posted about a bLack Rustic (14 Sept 2008 - shows how punctually they arrive each year!) I called it How Now Lord Vader. It's on: martinsmoths.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-now-lord-vader.html

Excellent point about arrival times. I've only looked into this a very little, by happenstance when I've started the trap very late after being out for the evening. So on those occasions, I know that everything in there (and it was usually plenty) arrived after midnight. A lot of trappers stay up and watch, turning the light off before midnight, but I am too lazy, busy or annoyed by the (incredibly bright) light. Anyway, I will try to test this, because it intrigues me too, with moths generally but also in particular with the wasps which, so far as I know, do not often fly by night.

MartinWainwright said...

Goodness! I've just checked last year's blog, and the Black Rustics came on September 14 then too. This is important science...

(See /martinsmoths.blogspot.com/2009/09/fun-and-games.html)