Monday, 9 June 2014

An I for an E

We had friends round yesterday with lively children and I was hoping that the moths might oblige overnight with some interesting visitors of their own. They did. Like an Estonian family who came to see us some years ago, and wittily described how their country has Europe's second-largest lake, third largest forest, fourth-largest something else etc, I was able to show-and-tell the UK's third largest moth.

Perched on a child's hand, the Privet Hawk (above) does indeed appear enormous and one of the Dads accurately compared it to a small bird or bat. The moth is bigger than many of the latter in the UK in both body size and wingspan and would give a Wren or Goldcrest a run for its money. Other visitors which impressed were a Poplar Hawk with its wings almost transparent wings from age and a Peppered moth (cue for mini-lecture on Darwin) which was christened 'Spot'.

Otherwise the warm nights are keeping things busy and I think the weekend brought me my first Ingrailed Clays of 2014, above. I am notoriously uncertain with this kind of moth and have resigned myself sadly to never being able to master them, but they raise an interesting etymological question. The word 'ingrailed' doesn't feature in modest dictionaries nor (so far as can discover) online in any usage other than for this moth. I wonder if it is a transition from 'engrailed', meaning indented with small curves. By coincidence, another weekend arrival, shown below, looks to me like the Engrailed moth, whose spelling has survived intact, although I suspect that it's actually a Willow Beauty.


Stewart said...

Hi Martin, Your Ingraileds are Brown Rustics....

MartinWainwright said...

Thanks so much. I fear that I will never learn. But I will keep trying

All v best