Sunday, 4 August 2013

If you know of a better 'ole

I was lazy yesterday, describing my Brussels sprout caterpillars as either this or that, and later on in the day I was duly rebuked by finding a different one, this time on the Purple-sprouting. When I saw the photo on the computer - because with a digital camera in sunshine, I never really know what I am snapping - I thought of Bruce Bairnsfather's famous First World War cartoon. Hence the post's title.

Today's catty is a Small White's and yesterday's were Large Whites, which along with the Green-veined White are much the commonest butterflies in the UK. Don't let's be sniffy about them, though. They flutter about like snowflakes in summer and their simple colours and wing patterns are lovely from close-up.

Things have been a bit busy, so the moths are having a rest and there's time to catch up with some of the the less gaudy and more familiar arrivals in recent days. In alphabetical order for once, here's the Harry Potterish micro duo of Agonopterix alstrumeriana followed by Apotomis Betuletana, above

Next, a Beaded Chestnut if my ID skills are correct which is often not the case; and below another moth on which I have a dodgy reputation, but I think that it's a Coronet. I mustn't make rude remarks about small brown moths all looking alike because this one has a lovely patterning and palette of colours which deserves a close, patient look.

It's less easy to get excited about the Double Square-spot which comes next but the Least and Lesser Bordered Yellow Underwings which follow are handsome when in good condition. I am trying hard to erase memories of exhaustion when scores and scores of this tribe appeared together in the trap at this time of year in Leeds.  They're more enjoyable when seen by day when you often disturb one on a country walk and it jinks off madly, somehow managing not to hit anything.

There's been no 'yellow underwing' glut in our first season in Oxfordshire, but a Commentor pointed out a few days ago that there are reports from different parts of the country of the various members of the family being notably fewer in number this year. I hope my frequent moans in the past haven't had some effect.

No complaints about another moth with drab colours but delicate patterning: the Lychnis, below, although you have every right to complain about my camera wobble. Sorry. And the Nut-tree Tussock which follows it - in a state of slight disarray after its eggbox tipped over and it briefly panicked - is another lovely creature whose wing patterns over-ride their its subdued colouring.

Here comes Pyrausta Purpuralis, a micro with a rather grand name although you have to look hard to see the purplish tinge; and then below it Scoparia pyralella followed by a newcomer, albeit common: the Shaded Brown-bar.

Finally, a favourite moth in Leeds because of the textile connections of its name: the Shuttle-shape Dart. The Cotswolds were also big in textiles, mind. I was very struck on a recent visit to Stroud by the old mills and chimneys. Set in a steep valley with a thriving counter-culture, the whole place was reminiscent of that Northern Shangri-la, Hebden Bridge. 


Phil said...

I rather like cabbage whites too Martin (just as well, as I've sacrificed my brassicas to them). There was one year when I grew a row of large-flowered, white sweet peas and they seemed to attract swarms of white butterflies - maybe they mistook the flowers for potential mates and rivals. It's a bumper year for small whites here - 12 on one lavender bush at once! All he best, Phil

Countryside Tales said...

Lots of yellow underwings in the box here :-) And my first shuttle shaped dart too. Our caterpillars are all large whites, although I did see peacocks on a walk yesterday- masses of spiky black caterpillars in a silk net feasting on nettles.

MartinWainwright said...

That's fascinating about the sweet peas, Phil. I've just referred to it in today's post with a coincidental pic. Isn't it a good year, this one!

Good luck with your YUs, CT. Be patient!