Thursday, 3 April 2014

Now you see them...

Some nice camouflage moths came visiting last night, all but one of them outside the trap on crevices or suitably coloured patches of wall. The finely attena-ed Small Brindled Beauty above was the one exception which decided to spend the night actually snuggled in the eggboxes.

Or maybe its sophisticated radar in those antennae made it an easier victim of whatever force, lure or distraction is caused for moths by the immensely bright light of a Robinson trap. I watched for a little while last night and when moths enter the trap, they jink wildly about. They look disorientated rather than attracted by the glare. This remains a subject of scientific debate but I get the impression that the very long cultural tradition of attraction - like a moth to a flame etc - is gradually losing out to the disorientation theory.

The second moth is a fine Oak Beauty half-tucked behind a last scrap of the ivy which Penny and I are dismantling stem by stem. And then there's an Early Grey melting into a very well-chosen background of Oxfordshire's grey stone.

This Early Thorn, just above, appears to have chosen a different strategy. It seems to have picked a strikingly obvious spot but the first two times that I scanned the wall by the trap, I missed it. Perhaps this is the Camouflage of Unexpectedness, a relative of wartime dazzle patterns on battleships which look, to the careful observer, blindingly obvious, but effectively disguise familiar shapes for those not particularly on the lookout (like anyone who forgot that Tuesday was April Fool's Day...

Here's a second Early Thorn, much greyer in colour and perching with its wings tightly closed which makes it hard to spot from most angles, albeit not this one. Below you can see them together along with my famous Biro measuring scale.

Finally I thought from a distance that this little chap was a micro-moth clinging to the top of a window-surround, but actually as you can see, it's our old friend the woodlouse. An interesting fact about these creatures is that their only known (to me) appearance in major literature is as 'creepy-crawly people' in Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse. The writer (who is responsible for a large slice of the UK's sentimental view of animals) originally put 'woodlice' but her publishers Warnes thought that this was unsuitable for children and so she made the description more vague. Misleading though she may be on animals, Beatrix Potter is good on human characteristics. I suspect we all know a Mrs Tittlemouse, forever dusting and Hoovering things.

Also in the trap (to keep up my heroic recording system): 18 Common Quakers, ten Small Quakers, seven Hebrew Characters, six Clouded Drabs, one Satellite and a small fawn micro which flew away but which I may be able to identify later.


Bennyboymothman said...

Gah you've done it again...caught a moth I have never seen in my life.
Top one is Brindled Beauty, Pale Brindled Beauty and Small Brindled Beauty have pretty much finished now.
Great catch!

MartinWainwright said...

Thanks v much yet again Ben. If anyone deserves a Brindled Beauty, its you!

All v best as always