Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Hiding in the grass

A couple of mediaeval-sounding moths arrived last night. The Grey (or Dark) Dagger and the Gothic could well feature in one of the Waverley novels or a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. Both perhaps fall into the smallish brown and grey moth category, from which arrivals such as yesterday's Ghost moth are such welcome exceptions; but their wing patterns are lovely and explain their names. Here's the Gothic in better focus, left, showing its intricate arches, like a church window. I say 'Grey or Dark' for the Dagger, incidentally, because the species are indistinguishable unless you examine their genitalia, which I don't plan to do.

The pair were among at least 20 moths which didn't actually enter the trap but settled on grass and plants round about and went to sleep there. A lot of moth recorders spread a white sheet under and around their traps and these seem to attract arrivals in the same way that a nice big bed with clean sheets does me, when I'm whacked. I saw this in action when I went trapping in North Yorkshire with Charlie Fletcher & Co in April for the Radio 4 programme Requiem for a Moth. It was impressive, but I haven't negotiated a sheet from our airing cupboard with Penny yet.

Meanwhile, here are some of the near-trap loiterers - pictures in order from top to bottom of the post: a Swallowtailed moth, the first of the season here but already a bit ragged; a Canary (one of a pair), a Light Emerald, a Riband Wave and a Clouded Border. There were also half-a-dozen other Light Emeralds, two Common Footmen and a Small Mottled Beauty and altogether it was a pretty sight.

Charlie has been emailing me kindly to identify moths, and says that he had 101 different species in his trap at Ripon the night before last. These are indeed the high days for UK moths.


Bennyboymothman said...

Yes I echo Charlie's response, absolutely perfect consitions for moths at the moment, mild, light rain and thundery, I think i'm upto 140 species for last night alone, which still all need confirming! this perfect weather is happening just at the peak of moth species on the wing (which usually happens between late june and late july every year)
Good to see you getting amongst some of them!

MartinWainwright said...

140! Well it couldn't happen to a more deserving person Ben!

I lament my lack of scientific grit when faced with bulging egg boxes - specially as literally millions of tiny flies are in there as well.

When I retire - if - I will try to do a comprehensive in the way that you and Charlie do. Are you a county recorder btw? You ought to be, if not

Warm wishes