Thursday, 18 September 2014

Moths for breakfast

Mary and her paintbrush - see below
I am not really a social moth-er, though I enjoy comparing notes on the blog and benefitting from the wisdom and ideas of other enthusiasts. Nature is best studied alone in my experience, partly because you can concentrate more easily and with less distraction, and partly just because you make a lot less noise.

The morning after; my trap under an unaccustomed rug to help keep jittery moths calm
Gathering round a moth trap when the lamp is lit is also an uncomfortable experience. The brilliance of mercury vapour bulb may attract moths in some way that we still don't entirely understand, but it certainly isn't good for human eyes. Moth 'breakfasts' are more manageable, however, and - as flagged-up in my previous post - I have just enjoyed one near the beautiful village of Minster Lovell with its famous mediaeval ruin and the considerable remains of a 19th century Chartist settlement, Charterville Allotments, on the outskirts.

Oak Hook-tip - one of the nice arrivals which I've not seen before
The ruin was the scene of a notorious instance of trapping, not of moths but of the beautiful heiress to the Lovell fortune. Gaily suggesting a game of hide-and-seek after her marriage, she clambered into a large chest, closed the lid and... the intricate lock sprang into place, her friends did not think of looking in that particular hiding place and her cries and banging were never heard. Wait for a cold winter night when the fire is blazing and settle down with the ballad of the story which you can find here (with its music on other websites).

Feathered Gothic; a very handsome autumn moth
Which is a rather long introduction to the friendly gathering of West Oxfordshire Field Club which used my Robinson trap and an actinic trap - a less obtrusive device well-suited to gardens close to other houses. The latter was placed in woodland on the site of an old quarry (which provided rubble for the runways at nearby RAF Brize Norton), and mine in the lovely garden of the cottage next door.

We had a good catch the following morning, including the pretty Oak Hook-tip and fine Feathered Gothic shown above. The event's organiser, Mary Elford, is a fellow contributor to the excellent Upper Thames Moths group. She introduced me to the usefulness of an oil-painting brush in tempting moths out of egg cartons and from the side of the trap's bowl, whose black plastic background makes photography difficult.

Those are the sorts of benefit you get from social moth-ing, and I am very grateful. Here are some more of our finds, including a lovely creamy Wainscot whose ID Mary is currently checking.

Vine's Rustic, I think Update: but I now think that I thought wrong, and that Toni in Comments is right to suggest that this is a Pale Mottled Willow. Thanks v much, T
Lunar Underwing
Garden Rose Tortrix micro (Acleris variegana)
Common Wainscot of the pinky type
Mary's mystery Wainscot


Anonymous said...

Hello there,
I am wondering if your Vine's Rustic is in fact a Pale Mottled Willow?
Best wishes Toni

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi Toni - yes, I'm sure you're right - thanks very much. You don''t have any thoughts about the wainscot in the last picture do you, by any chance? I think it may just be a Common W

all warm wishes