Saturday, 11 June 2011

Unmet by moonlight

Proving a negative is inevitably rather unexciting and I'm afraid that's what I did last night. As we went to bed, I remarked to Penny about the bright moon and fell asleep in a sort-of muddled reverie about passages in Prof Ford's mighty work Moths about the effect of moonlight on moth navigation.

There are a number of fables about moths flying to the moon - usually with an Icarus-style moral of over-ambition - and indeed you can watch a little film on the subject here. But there is plenty of serious work suggesting that the lure of light traps such as mine is much-reduced when Nature's vastly more powerful lamp is shining in clear skies, as we had last night.

So there were only a dozen moths slumbering this morning, among them this smartly-coloured Ingrailed Clay, above. In the context of my moon musings, it looks appropriately as though it is a vast spaceship flying through the Milky Way, but that is in fact the inside of my moth trap (hence the not-quite-focussed image from the plastic 'glare', sorry). Like almost moths this year, it is on the wing some weeks earlier that you would normally expect. 'Ingrailed' is one of those words you can inadvertently use without thinking what it actually means. Usually spelt 'engrailed', it refers to the line of dots on the wing edge, as also seen on a lot of coins. Knowledge, eh! Worship the great god Google...

Just a couple of other things, in case any of my expert pals are reading. I'd be very grateful for identifications on these two visitors, left and below. Meanwhile I hope that the sun is shining on you as it is on Leeds and that you have a lovely weekend.


Stewart said...

Hi Martin I think the top one is Clouded Bordered Brindle of the form combusta, and the other looks like Dusky Brocade? Its tricky for me up north , I'm not sure what is likely for you?

Cheers Stewart.

worm said...

Hi martin, being a very dabblerish amateur I have no idea what the two mysterious moths are - however, your blog did inspire me to find out more about noctuidae, and I've found this excellent group of photos to help:

word verification today is the mothly 'bewingst'

MartinWainwright said...

Hi both and thanks so much for the help.

I've coincidentally just had an email from Charlie Fletcher, our omniscient county moth recorder, and he confirms your CBB ab combusta, Stewart, but says that the other one is also a CBB, normal form.

I really appreciate being given a hand and thanks for the Flickr link, Great Worm.

all v best