Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Novelties still come

I've got up early today and the garden is still washed by the blueish light of the moth trap, but I am not expecting great things. The experts on the Upper Thames Moths blog are winding down their activities and settling in their armchairs with their lists of records for the Oxfordshire county organisers. The weather has changed for the colder and there will be many fewer moths about.

We cannot grumble. It has been a glorious season and the moths shown today - all arrivals within the last week - are exemplars of how long the season has gone on. The Sprawler is a special favourite; Leeds was too fizzy and active a place to have sprawlers. And although the Silver Y has been familiar to me since before my teens, that lustrous metallic gamma mark still fills me with excitement.

A Sprawler, front, sprawling alongside that superficially similar old favourite, Blair's Shoulder-knot
The moth shown in my first two pictures is also a late-in-the-year new record for me: the Rusty-dot Pearl micro, known more formally as Udea ferrugalis. A good task for the 21st century, in my opinion, would be the giving of English names to all the country's micros, most of which have to lumber along under Latin or Greek tags (or worst of all, a mixture of the two). However, scientific opinion, influenced by classification and international ease of access, takes the opposite view.

Tiny but tough, the Rusty-dot is an immigrant species, making its own way here from the Continent in the Autumn, abundant in southern England in some years and scarce in others. This year's warm weather and pleasant airstreams from the south have brought plenty of records, and now mine is one of them.

Silver Y, albeit looking more golden to me
I need more time to identify all these precisely (what's new?) but other tasks beckon. Meanwhile I'm looking forward to the talk at St Mary's church in Kirtlington at 7.45pm tonight on the Death's Head Hawk moths discovery which was undoubtedly the sensation of my mothing year.

Straw Dot, one of many very late flyers in the Indian summer
Purely for pleasure: two beautiful Red-green Carpets
Another pair: both Red-line Quakers, I think, though the wing shape seems slightly different and I stand to be corrected
An unusually grey form of the greenish version of the Green-brindled Crescent
And finally, today's tedious mystery: a not very striking micro which I have yet to pin down - Update: Martin Townsend of the Moth Bible goes for a faded Acleris variegana. Many thanks indeed.

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