Thursday, 27 June 2013

Scene of the crime?

The trap was full of moths last night, well over 100, and there were plenty snoozing on leaves nearby. Those in the eggboxes included a second Privet Hawk - the UK's second largest moth about which I exulted earlier this week - and another of the series of Elephant Hawks which have come calling. Also Peppered Moths, Bright-line Brown-eyes, Ermines both White and Buff and a clutch of others which I'll examine in due course.

But the greatest interest was among the nearby nettles and willowherb where my eye was caught by a speck of red as I started reeling up the electric cable. It proved to be this: a torn hindwing of the gaudy and vivid Scarlet Tiger, a moth which I would love to have shown you in toto.  As it is, I will have to fall back on the picture in my Moth Bible.

Presumably it came to the light but was intercepted en route by one of our many bats. Or maybe it was resting nearby as daylight came and was spotted by a bird. I suspect the first scenario, as birds have so far shown little interest when I go and inspect the eggboxes in the morning. Waring and Townsend note that it is a day flyer but also comes to light at night, adding with an unusual touch of drama: 'The male patrols wildly in the late afternoon and early evening'. It's classified as 'local' nationally but with a stronghold which includes Oxfordshire and extends to the south west. Plus an outpost in Kent.

On the way back to make tea, I spotted a similar phenomenon to the lonely scrap of wing with the wild poppies which we have left to add colour to our lettuce and radish patch. Beauty can be fleeting.

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