Friday, 30 May 2014

Tree house haul

Emboldened by my rainy night success on Tuesday, I put the trap out last night in spite of forecasts of more wet weather before dawn. In the event they were wrong but the lamp was in a very snug and dry spot, underneath the treehouse which Penny and I - and helpful neighbours' children - are preparing for our granddaughter.

The results were very interesting from such a confined space - a dark nook surrounded by cow parsley, nettles and a hawthorn hedge with the treehouse floor only a couple of feet above the bulb. There were over 60 moths in the eggboxes including quite a few newcomers for the year.

Two 'jetplane' moths first: the Pebble Hooktip above and the slightly less Star Warsy Straw Dot below. There was also a solitary Poplar Hawk which woke up unusually quickly and a Cinnabar nestling on one of the metal supports for the lamp.

In the same box as the Straw Dot was this Small Magpie, Eurrhypara hortulata, looking a bit like Arthur Koestler's political prisoner in his cell in Darkness at Noon. This moth is actually a micro but so large and macro-like that it features on a special page in the Moth Bible of mciros which may be mistaken for their bigger brothers and sisters.

The leafy, low-level surroundings seemed to attract an unusually large number of delicate, fluttery moths - Carpets and Pugs, some of which scooted off while I was fumbling with my camera. Here are some of them below: a Green Pug (one of the very few of that infuriating tribe which are easy to ID),  two forms of the rather larger Common Marbled Carpet,  a Silver-ground Carpet and a Garden Carpet.

Another pleasant debut this year came in the form of the Clouded Border, below, and the eggboxes also hosted 2014's first 'yellow underwing'. This very handsome Large Yellow Underwing, picture left) originally had me excited as a possible absolute novelty. But when it fluttered on to the grass beside my camera strap it revealed its tell-tale petticoat - second picture, below. These moths used to drive me bats in Leeds because they came in numbers far too large to cope with; but here in Oxfordshire they seem - thankfully - more sparse.

Lastly, a couple of attractive micros,  Celypha lacunana or possibly cespitana (I am checking) and Crambus lathoniellus.   There were several other midgets among the eggboxes but they skipped off while my attention was elsewhere.  Now I must find my torch and go an examine the gloomy underside of the treehouse floor to see if anything is tucked up there. See update below.

My torch expedition revealed one other snoozer - and solved a small mystery. One rather nice Carpet fluttered off before I could photograph it but this - pictured below - is its twin: both were faded Green Carpets, a lovely bright moth when fresh and young. How like the human condition...


Countryside Tales said...

Oh God, the Yellow Underwings. I well remember being inundated last year! A nice selection :-)

Martin Wainwright said...

Yes, prepare yourself CT...

Apols for lateness in replying. I'm too busy being a trainee guerrilla knitter

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