Saturday, 13 July 2013

Tiger, tiger...

Lord of all I survey - a tiger in the Wainwright jungle

I am a sucker for a bit of glamour - people (or in this case moths) bedizening and bedazening themselves to go out, as one of my Grannies used to say. In this gaudy line, it is hard to do better than the Garden Tiger which got most of my attention in the trap this morning.

It is a common moth and one seen fairly frequently flying during the day, as well as the product of the famous 'woolly bear' caterpillar, often seen hurrying across tarmac or lawns on hot days. But our paths have not crossed that much and this is the first I have drawn to my lamp, like many of the species at our moth-crowded new home on the edge of Oxford.

I've lingered on different views of it, thanks to its extreme sleepiness and patience as I tried to to persuade it to show me its vivid underside and body like a bright red wasp's. If you want an example of warning colouration, you could hardly do better, even in a slightly worn specimen like this one which has clearly been about a bit. Birds, keep away!

Go on, play ball

I only finally got the real red after hiding him or her in a hydrangea bush

Close-up of the body, the most vivid part of the moth

Another very warm night brought several hundred other moths to the trap, including another first for me, the Light Arches, and a delicately coloured Small Angle Shades. With the help of the scrap of my pyjamas in the background, can you detect its traces of that very rare colour in UK moths, blue?

Light Arches - lovely feathery wing pattern

Small Angle Shades with its hints of blue mid wing and at the wing edge

Finally, a lovely little micro whose identity I intend to nail over my Saturday morning cup of tea in bed. I hope the weather is smiling on you too. Update after only one cup of tea: I think I have it: Lozotaeniodes formosana, a moth success story. It was first recorded only in 1945 in Surrey but has since expanded to the position where it is rated nationally common.

The Garden Tiger's stylish dress sense earns it a place on the cover of my Moth Bible as you can see here. I am glad that respectable, scientific entomologists share my simple-minded enjoyment of the bigger and brighter moths. Or maybe it was their colleagues at British Wildlife Publishing, who know how to sell books.


Countryside Tales said...

Hi Martin,

LOVE that garden tiger moth. I haven't seen one yet but would love to. I also had a Lozotaeniodes formosana in the box this week- amazing looking things. I thought I had a small angle shades too but after seeing yours I'm not so sure. Will have to go back to the book and start pouring over it again! Well done on your catch. CT :-)

MartinWainwright said...

They're terrific insects, aren't they. And I've got another lovely beastie for tomorrow, spotted on a neighbour's flower border by my daughter-in-law who doesn't like moths but was pretty impressed by this one. More in the morn.

I've just been very much enjoying your blog - and I'm sure your Small Angle Shades is right - just got wings in a different position from mine. Unless I'm wrong, which has been known to happen...

all warm wishes


RappinRach said...

Wow, that's a stunning one. I've not seen it before, hope I can get one sometime.

MartinWainwright said...

Hope you do, RappinRach. It's taken 63 years for me to see one in the UK. But worth the wait!

Isn't the weather amazing

all warm wishes