Monday, 23 September 2013

Downton Abbey, eat your heart out

I was going to show you some rather alarming pictures of a spider at work today, but the moths have played a blinder overnight and I can't resist them.  We were watching the new series of Downton Abbey when some of them probably flew in. Lord Fellowes, it's high time we had a moth in the plot!

First up, beating all comers in the Pink Eggbox Challenge, is the ravishing Barred Sallow above, a moth new to me both here in Oxfordshire and during eight years of trapping in Leeds. The Burnished Brass below is by contrast a very regular caller, but the pink perhaps brings out its marvellous metallic finish. The second BB pic shows one of the other eight in the trap from a rather unflattering angle. I think she's a she, and just about to lay an egg.

It was the various sallows' night above all; below is a Sallow on pink (sorry, I'm obsessed), another on grey and a third on the Star Wars-y metal bulbholder. And last in the set, a fourth with a Frosted Orange. The sequence shows how varied this moth can be in its palette of yellows, oranges and browns. It is also a tough character. These all spent the first stage of their life cycle over-wintering (and what a long, dour winter!) as eggs laid in the open on twigs.

The Bordered Beauty, below, is an exquisite moth which shares the Sallow's tough streak, spending its winter as an egg too, albeit in the slightly more sheltered nooks and crannies of its foodplants, sallow, hazel, willow and black poplar trees.

Next, another favourite, the Ruby Tiger, in this instance perched on grass near the trap and giving a demonstration of waterproofing. Like sheep, moths can shrug off dew and early morning drizzle, so long as their wingscales do not become soaked.

I think the next one is another new species for me, provided that I have identified it correctly as a Brindled Green. If you click on the pic, the delicate shades of green - my favourite UK moth colour in the mysterious absence of blue - become more apparent.

And to finish with, a couple of micros: a curious Auster aircraft-like plume and a tortrix - with an exciting new scale, a Nasturtium flower, in the last photo to show how small the moth is. The plume is only fractionally bigger. But it would make a lovely brooch for Maggie Smith, the Dowager Countess of Downton. It even has an ermine collar, like a member of the House of Lords.


Bennyboymothman said...

Lovely variety Martin. That Barred Sallow is a cracker and looks to me like a slight aberrant.
Ruby Tiger is incredibly late so well done.
All the best and sorry I have not had much time to post on your posts but nevertheless I have been reading them.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi Ben! Many thanks and that's interesting extra info about the Barred Sallow and Ruby Tiger

It always makes me feel safer, knowing you're out there!

all warm wishes