Friday, 4 April 2014

Lady Grey

A moth which I've always thought particularly elegant in an understated way arrived this morning for the first time this year: the Powdered Quaker. It puts me in mind of the sort of clothes worn by my great auntie Katie whose sweetheart died in the 'flu after the First World War. She subsequently devoted herself to others in general rather than one in particular, like Dorothea in Middlemarch whose closing lines I quote at every available opportunity:
Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth.  But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive, for the growing  good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.
But this is not a pulpit so back to moths: my other source of joy is this 21mm chrysalis which narrowly escaped my spade in the veg plot yesterday and is now in a box in the kitchen waiting to turn into a moth. Assuming all goes well, I'll introduce you to its occupant later in the season - isn't it marvellous how you can see the wings etc through the case. In many instances, gentle colouring appears as the moment of hatching draws near.

For the rest, the trap attracted a record three Brindled Beauties last night, along with 19 Common Quakers, 11 Hebrew Characters, one Small Quaker, one Clouded Drab, an Ophion wasp and a small fly with a fat orange tummy.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

My ears perk up whenever I see my name. I may have to add Middlemarch to my reading list.

I'm curious to know why you moved your pupa into the heat of your kitchen? Won't that speed up its development? I remember fielding a handful of calls in Cleveland, OH of swallowtail butterflies flying around inside people's homes... in December! I believe the chrysalids came in on Christmas trees, and the heat of the houses fooled them into emerging. I keep all mine outside so that eventually they can find mates that have also naturally emerged.

Three years ago, I came close to spading a pupa, too: It was 26mm, and my guess as to what it was was wrong. Can you ever really tell what these turds are before they emerge?

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi Katie - and an excellent name that is too.

You're absolutely right about the kitchen temperature and I've moved the chrysalis outside.

I think you can sometimes tell which pupa is going to be which moth - eg this example from our excellent local website Upper Thames Moths.

Mind you, he bred them from eggs and caterpillars, so knew what they were anyway, which may be cheating.

Turd is an appropriate word for them...

All warm wishes


Countryside Tales said...

Powdered Quaker is lovely, as is the excerpt from Middlemarch.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi CT -sorry for long delay in replying - Passion Play exhaustion but it went really well

all warmest M