Friday, 25 October 2013

Water off a moth's back

The UK Met Office is going through one of its pre-emptive phases, a common phenomenon since Michael Fish and the Great Hurricane Fiasco of 1987.   Its warnings of extreme conditions on Sunday/Monday have been taken up with enthusiasm in the media, notably my mother-in-law's Daily Express which loves weather stories (as I do myself).

Last night's bulletins included warnings of storm outriders in our area, but I am so complacent about the effectiveness of Mr & Mrs Robinson's rain shield that I put the trap out anyway. I'm glad I did because reasonably heavy rain at around dawn duly descended - and provided striking proof of the fact that moths can truck on through such conditions.

The first one featured - ID shortly (Update: I think it's a Dark Swordgrass, an interesting, entirely immigrant moth which may well be muttering about English weather) - was sitting right on top of the rain shield and you can enjoy its raindrops, which stayed put when I transferred it on to an eggbox fragment for pic two - note lively antennae and general air of wanting to get off. The Feathered Thorn in the third picture (one of eight altogether) was on the outside of the canopy, along with the November moth shown below. None were affected by the wet; all three flew off after a little coaxing back to wakefulness.

As with sheep, whose lanolin led to a vast cosmetics byproduct from the sewage works in Bradford during the city's textile heyday, the insects are protected by waterproofing. They can get bashed into submission by direct hits from large raindrops, especially if accompanied by wind. But these are seldom knockout blows. They pick themselves up and dust themselves down and start over, American style (see you soon, Sarah & Greg...).

It was more comfy inside the trap, admittedly, where this Silver Y was joined by about 30 other moths


Countryside Tales said...

I haven't had the box out all week and if this storm does hit I guess tonight is perhaps my only window of opportunity!

MartinWainwright said...

Hope you managed to have a sesh. And that the moths find somewhere to hide tonight. It looks like we're going to be drenched. All warmest M