Saturday, 30 August 2014

Assorted visitors

Sorry, my granddaughter and other animals have been distracting me from moths and the weather has also hampered trapping on several nights since I last posted. But today is lovely and sunny and so the Red Admirals have come out to play, one of the first butterflies I remember clocking as a child and one of the loveliest that the UK has to offer.

As veteran readers of the blog have been reminded on several occasions, these admirals have nothing to do with the sea which laps our island shores. They are named through a gradual transition of language. Just as the Infanta of Castille, Hencry VIII's first bride Katherine of Aragon, became the 'Elephant and Castle' immortalised in the names of many pubs, so the 'Red Admirable' became the 'Red Admiral'. Both inaccurate versions are easier to say.

In Mothland meanwhile...

...the Thorn family has brightened up the rather dull assembly of rustics and yellow underwings which are the principal current harvest; above, two pictures of that fine creature the Canary-shouldered Thorn and one of an August or September Thorn (impossible for me to tell apart) on a house window near the trap. And the dashing Swallow Prominent has put in a similar appearance several times, choosing a wall rather than the eggboxes.

Below are the afore-mentioned Yellow Underwings of various types. I got sick of them in Leeds where they came by the hundred. Here they are less common but currently plentiful; certainly the top visiting species in terms of numbers at the moment.

Little Emily enjoys watching them fly away when we tickle them - a rare chance to get a glimpse of their bright yellow and orange petticoats. I also showed her the Pinocchio of the moth world below, the Snout with its protruding palps which resemble the tall-story-telling puppet's nose - albeit, on close inspection, with a fork at the end which would have made his embarrassment even worse..

Finally for today, some of the brown and grey bretheren whose IDs I will provide, I hope, as time marches on 

Common or Lesser Common Rustic, I think

I'm opting for a Tawny Speckled Pug

Vine's Rustic
Square-spot Rustic

Common or Lesser Common Rustic, once again


Nige said...

Lovely stuff Martin - but I'm afraid the 'Red Admirable' story isn't actually true (though Vladimir Nabokov himself believed it). The name Admiral was in use from the butterfly's first naming (1699). It was also known by some as the Scarlet Admiral, before settling down as the Red Admiral in 1799. 'Admirable' was itself the deviant form, dating to 1747 and repeated a few times before dying out.
What's more, the Infanta/ Elephant story is also untrue - see Wikipedia.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi Nige - that's such an interesting comment - very many thanks. I guess you're never too old to learn... 64 in my case. Actually, I hope you don't object if I keep a bit of an open mind for now on the Admiral/able issue. Your evidence is really interesting but there seem to be suggestions that the term 'admiral' was used to mean 'admirable'. It's hard to see any sea-faring parallel. Anyway...

The infanta one does convince me though - sad though it is to lose such a tale. Another excellent fact which also needs adjusting is the claim that the Queen Catherine pub and hotel at Osmotherly on the egd of the North York Moors is the only one in England named after the poor lady. Sadly, a pub called the Claremont in West Byfleet has renamed itself the Catherine of Aragon. Not quite the North York Moors, even so.

all warmest wishes


Nige said...

Thanks Martin - and there was yet another name for the Red Admiral, which I didn't know - the Alderman! Presumably from the coloured robes. Shame that didn't catch on...
Nige (64 too)

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi again Nige

Alderman is good - the butterfly looks well be-robed.

I remember just before aldermen were abolished in Leeds, the Liberal ones came to a garden party at my parents' home, flaunting their purple robes for what appeared to be the last time.

More like Purple Emperors than Red Admirals, but still

all warmest


(64 is the best year yet)