Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Out on the town

I was childishly pleased to meet this beautiful moth this morning, yawning in its leopard skin coat like a glamorous movie star after a night out in the West End. Actually I don't think moths do yawn but let's not let that get in the way of my metaphors... Update: Penny thinks it's more like a morsel of Chicken Tikka, which is also true.

This is a Dotted Chestnut, one of many moths on the up in the UK - welcome counters to the school of envirodoom which dominates public discourse. In my ageing (2003) copy of the Moth Bible it is described as Nationally Scarce B although the authors noted that its distribution had expanded since 1990.

It's also an interesting moth from an interesting family. Its caterpillars are thought to dwell cosily with certain types of ant, protected by spinal hairs not found in others of the family. Its relative the Red-headed Chestnut, which I have yet to see, meanwhile has a lineage "clouded with uncertainty because dishonest insect traders were involved in records from Kent in the late 19th century."

This particular one showed its share of enterprise. About two hours after taking the first photograph outside - note my special Biro scale - I was making a 'phone call when I spotted a moth on the table. It was the Dotted Chestnut which had cadged a lift indoors, probably on my cuddly dressing gown.

Otherwise it was a moth bonanza in the eggboxes for the second night running, with two more newcomers for this year - the micro-moths Diurnea fagella (and old pal from 2013), above, and the super-pretty but very small Agonopterix alstromeriana, below. I specially like the latter because my late mother was a great grower and fan of Alstromerias which are known with good reason as the Poor Man's Orchid.

For the rest: 32 Common Quakers, 14 Small Quakers, 13 Clouded Drabs, 12 Hebrew Characters, four Early Thorns, a March moth, a Pine Beauty, a Twin-spotted Quaker and a Satellite. I think that adds up to 82 moths of 12 species.


Countryside Tales said...

Very interesting post Martin, thank you :-)

Easter hols next week, so I am hoping to get the box out more. Snowed under with college work at the mo otherwise I would have been trapping this week with all this wonderful mild weather we have. Maybe I'll sneak one in tonight...

Bennyboymothman said...

Nice catch Martin.
Dotted Chestnut I am hoping to see one day in my garden. It is indeed increasing its range, though I have never had more than one per night.
Keep up the interesting posts :)