Monday, 17 March 2014

Fluttering by

When I'm asked "Why moths?", there's often the implication or follow-up question: "Why not butterflies?"  The answer is that I love them equally and have since the age of seven when I was introduced to the fascinations of both at school.

A gang of us roamed the Malvern Hills under the leadership of an enthusiastic teacher called Mr Hope-Simpson (unfairly but affectionately nick-named Hopeless Sam). He very quickly taught us the essentials about British butterflies and it wasn't long before we'd seen all of the 70-odd native species that most of us are likely to see.

Moths remained a more mysterious world; far greater in numbers and much harder to track down in those days (1958-63) when the thought of owning a Robinson light trap was a pipedream. Indeed, Mr and Mrs Robinson had only invented it two or three years earlier.

Now all is mothy joy and my lamp beams out in the dark, but I am still bowled over by the beauty of butterflies. In the sunshine of the last few days, they have been out in force here. The lemony Brimstone, rare in Leeds but common here, eluded me. None of them wanted to stop, although the blackthorn at the far end of the field up the footpath was pumping out intoxicating wafts of honey. My attempt to photograph the Small Tortoiseshells sunning themselves on the footpath were also vain; I got some but had the camera on digital macro and they came out blurred.

But I got the Peacock shown at the top of this post on the blackthorn, and our local Comma which is extraordinarily territorial. It approves of only one small patch, about three yards square, of our lawn.  Every time I go past with the wheelbarrow, up it flies.

Can you spot the blue-eyed giant in the Peacock pic btw, hiding behind the hedge? More tomorrow from the moth trap, which hosted a very handsome new visitor last night.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

Even better are moths that fly during the day:

MartinWainwright said...

Yes that's an excellent point Katie, and a great link

Hope good things are fluttering your way

All warmest


Banished To A Pompous Land said...

You are ahead of me for the year Martin I havent seen a single butterfly yet this year in supposedly warm Virginia. For every warm 60 plus degree day there come 4 or 5 in the 30s with drizzle , freezing rain or snow. Its been a very hard winter for this area at least. Heres hoping its knocked the mosquitoes for six at least for the early summer.