Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Fairy fellow

Put your antennae in...
Curiosities in the trap this morning: first of all, what I take to be one of the 'longhorn' or sometimes more romantically 'fairy longhorn' moths, the Adelidae with their tiny bodies and world champion antennae.  Why such a speck of a creature needs such a sophisticated sensory system is something I would like to find out. Also, what do they do with them when flying?

...put your antennae out...

I can't answer the latter, yet, as my Adela wasn't inclined to fly even when I tipped it safely into a clump of nettles. Update: browsing online over my morning tea, I note that antennae are linked to detecting moths of the opposite sex which may account for the fact that in longhorn moths, the males' equipment is twice or more as long as the females'. There's also a fascinating piece from the University of Washington here, which demonstrates how damaged antennae affect a moth's stability in flight - research conducted by a team constructing flying robots who repaired some damaged moths with superglue., in-out and wave them all about

I was also distracted by this beetle with its curious passengers and the dilemma: are they babies, in which case I'll leave them alone, or parasites, in which case I'll flick them off?

In fact they are neither, or rather they probably qualify as 'benign parasites'. They are spider mites which hitch a lift on beetles without doing them harm, grazing meanwhile on microscopic fauna on their host's carapace. So it was OK that I followed the adage: if in doubt, do nowt.

The Eyed Hawk's eyes are a rare example of 'true blue' whose absence from UK moths I bewailed yesterday
What about moths? Here are some of the daily throng which varies from big hawk moths such as the Poplar and Eyed shown above to the dark form of the Common or Lesser Common Rustic below, and  a new arrival for this year, but one very familiar in Leeds, the Buff Arches with its squiggly Arab-style calligraphy on the forewing.

I think this final one below may be a Large Twin-spot Carpet form thedenii Lampa, but with carpets, I am usually wrong.