Friday, 1 March 2013

Art of darkness

Today's customary greeting as the first of the month is 'White rabbits!' But here on M's Moths, it is 'Black moth!' because my faith in lighting the trap for the first time since January was rewarded by this: a melanistic Peppered Moth. Isn't it fine, including what my eyes consider a slightly greenish sheen?

But Eeek! See comments and ignore the above... (Although the below still applies to what this moth actually is,  a Pale Brindled Beauty.  I've just been Googling about the subject and found this interesting website to which I hope to contribute in a modest way.)

These used to be two-a-penny in northern England when the factories belched out smoke but they have declined dramatically as the air has grown cleaner and the countryside less polluted, or indeed melanistic. Although I am no expert on Darwinian theory, I once had the pleasure of meeting the late Sir Cyril Clarke, the doctor and entomologist who correlated the rise in non-melanistic Peppereds with the increase in UK centenarians. Buckingham Palace helped him to count him the birthday telegrams from the Queen.

Also in the trap, perched on the edge of the bowl, was this little chap above, whom I'll identify later,  (Update: I think it's a Chestnut) and this littler one below,reading the Scottish section of the Egg Code (did you know we had one?), whom I'll sort out later still. Update: I'm guessing it's Tortricodes alternella, catchy name eh? 

And finally, what is this magnificently spooky non-moth? You can see where people such as George Lucas get their ideas for Star Wars creatures et al.



David Shenton said...

Nice to see you getting a few moths.

Your first one is actually the dark form of Pale Brindled Beauty, known as f. monacharia.

I'll leave the others to you, don't want to spoil your fun.


Ray Walton said...

Oh how good it is to see some moths posts

Yes, I also suggest a Pale Brindled Beauty for the first one.

The other two are on my radar

The last one will be in my Michael Chinery "Insects of Britain and Northern Europe" bible, which i will have the pleasure of thumbing through later in the evening in the hope of a more accurate Cranefly id


Anonymous said...

Hi both


There I go again...

Ah well. I am very close to retirement ad will give the subject MUCH more attention soon

I'm just a bit whizzing about at the mo but will return before long with a stab at the other two moths

all warmest wishes and thanks doe now


MartinWainwright said...

Here I am again, remarkably quickly. I've now had a crack at the other two moths. Any help with the weird mosquito-type thing would be great. I'm never going to be able to crack that on my own.

All warmest


MartinWainwright said...

Sorry Ray - when I say 'weird mosquito-type thing' I of course mean 'Cranefly'. I'm looking forward to the fruits of your thumbing... M

David Shenton said...


Yes indeed, Chestnut and T. alternella, in some quarters referred to in the vernacular as Winter Shade...


MartinWainwright said...


Many thanks again for all the expert guidance


Ray Walton said...

Sorry Martin

Can't nail that cranefly due to orientation of the image

Enjoyed the thrill of the chase though


Anonymous said...

Ah well.. Many thanks for trying

Actually, I'll check back and see if I have some others which I could email you.

I'll be lighting up again soon

all v best again


Cindy Mead said...

happy to have found your blog! enjoying your photos and your inclusion of natural history as well. I do my moth-ing in Michigan and it's always fun to cross paths with those who appreciate the moonflowers of the night :)

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi Cindy!

I don't suppose you'll ever read this but shamefully, I have only just found your comment after checking back to last year to compare with this year's results.

Thanks so much and I like 'moonflowers'

all warm wishes