Saturday, 31 August 2013

Scarlet ladies (or gentlemen)

Back to the trap from our treacling adventures in Bradford, to a fine welcome from no fewer than five Red Underwings. Here are three of them, posing briefly on a couple of twigs while warming up for take-off which happened shortly afterwards.

This is a great process to watch, with the wings whirring faster and faster as the dozy insect works up enough energy to fly. Then they launch themselves into the air and flitter away into the safety of our apple tree while the local cock robin tuts and chirrups in frustration.

I must try to get a film of it some time because that is the best way to show the vivid scarlet colouring of the top hindwing which normally the moths keep chastely concealed. This morning, luckily, the last to go sat in the trap after a brief panic with her skirts (or his kilt) nicely spread out.

A last Red Underwing glimpse, with the halo of the trap top behind

The quintet are an illustration of the micro-geography of our garden. I last had a Red Underwing visit when I balanced the trap precariously on the roof of our dilapidated shed. Two Old Lady moths were in the eggboxes with it and last night, when I placed the lamp a few feet from the shed at ground level,  there was one fast asleep - shown above with a Burnished Brass to illustrate the bigger moth's V-bomber looks.  In the same way, Poplar Hawks are to be found in a separate, wooded part of the garden and there are other distinctly local species populations.

I've got nice petticoats too. One of several yellow underwings in last night's trap

I must map them. Meanwhile, by way of contrast in size, here is a pair of small but beautifully patterned Carpet moths, Broken-barred left and Common right (I think). Update: no, the BB is a Garden Carpet - many thanks to Richard in Comments.


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,
I'm dead jealous of those Red Underwings! I haven't had any this year. I think your broken-barred carpet is a garden carpet. BBC are usually over by the end of July.

MartinWainwright said...

Hi Richard - I really hope you get some soon. I know it's schoolboyish, but there's nothing like a really stonking big moth in the eggboxes to get the day off to a good start. Thanks for the Carpet correction, too - I'll update now.

All warmest