Friday, 9 August 2013

The trap has (human) visitors

We have just started a series of three 'Moth Nights' in the UK, an exercise conducted every year by Butterfly Conservation and the enthusiasts' magazine Atropos whose website has a very good Flight Arrivals page, modelled on airport info screens but dealing with moths rather than planes.

By happy chance, our neighbours have family visiting and so quite a group of us gathered round the trap this morning instead of just me in my pyjamas. A pleasant change for those moths who were awake.

A Swallow Prominent scopes out its new surroundings

A Canary-shouldered Thorn prepares for take-off. Next away: a Silver Y

Two grandchildren did an excellent job of spotting interesting slumberers including the notable Sexton Beetle above (gruesome facts about it if you follow that link) and used their warm hands as launchpads for some of the more jittery moths which exercised their wings to raise their body temperatures to the level which gives them sufficient energy to fly. Impressively, no-one was put off by less welcome visitors to the eggboxes, including wasps of varying sizes, fortunately all pretty dopey.

Careful. They are not dead, but sleeping

The star of the moths for me was this beautiful Poplar Kitten below, along with the glowing little micro Argyresthia goedartella which I've chosen to head the post. The latter was the size of a small splinter.

Are we nearly there yet? Poplar Kitten ascends an eggbox cone

The beautiful patterning and colours of the Poplar Kitten. Dress designers take note
Moth Night's organisers have chosen the tiger moths to highlight this year's activities in the media; understandable, as their vivid colours make them obvious poster boys and indeed they feature on the cover of my Moth Bible. But also unwise, in my view, because (quite apart from any decline in their numbers) the chances of many people seeing the Garden Tiger used in the press release are slim. I only saw my first this year, at the age of 63. And a visit from the Jersey Tiger used as an illustration by my former colleagues in the Guardian is super-unlikely. However, in the spirit of the thing, here is my tigerish contribution: one of three Ruby Tigers in the trap which flashed us a view of its bright red breeches and stripy body. Click on any pic to make them full-screen.

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