Friday, 15 May 2015

A very old friend

It rained all day yesterday, in a slow, steady manner which as children we used to call 'Venusian' after reading some pseudo-scientific book which suggested that the weather was always like that on Venus. But at dusk it stopped and I was hoping for interesting visitors in the trap overnight.

In the event, apart from a Spectacle moth, half-a-dozen Flame Shoulders and five Maybugs, there was only this, a Heart and Dart. Common enough, but I have a soft spot for it because it featured in my 12th-ever post on this blog, back in June 2008.  Here's the picture I took then which shows the 'heart' part better than my one this morning.

And this is what I wrote then:

Rain last night, so no trapping. Instead here's a language lesson and another competition. Chatting with Cheryl about 'psyche' the dual classical Greek word for 'spirit/soul' and 'butterfly' (see Comment on immediately previous post) got me thinking about Indonesian. The Indonesia for butterfly is kupu-kupu. The Indonesian for moth is kupu-kupu malam. But kupu-kupu malam literally means 'butterfly of the night' and is also slang for prostitute. I know this because I once collected moths in Sulawesi (formerly Celebes). Oh, how knowledge-packed blogging can be. Now the competition: look at the wing patterns of this moth (currently a nightly visitor in Leeds) and guess its name. I'll help with the clue that it's called the Blank-and-Blank and the two Blanks rhyme.

Guesses included the excellent 'nail and pail', 'blot and dot' and 'wings and things' and I also had a comment from the owner of a New York soap shop called... Heart and Dart.  I'm not sure if it's still running, but hope so. There's an online reference to it here.


Trent Duval said...

I'm surprised nobody guessed "Ear and Spear".
Just 3 moths in my traps this morning after a cold, wet, May night.

Martin Wainwright said...

An excellent one to add to the collection!

Yes it's meagre when the May weather turns cold. Still, good times to come

all warm wishes


Bee Hale said...

Hi, I had a elephant hawk moth hatch two days ago and tried to wait for the weather to improve before setting it free. I tried feeding it a sugar water solution but it wouldn't take to it so thought it best to let it out and to give it a chance on its own to feed.So last night,the 13 May 2015, it was mild so I put it on the base of the fuchsia bush(where I found the caterpillar last year) and wished it well. Today it is pouring with rain with a blustery wind and so worried that the moth won't survive. Could you let me know if it will be ok please.

MartinWainwright said...

Hi Bee

Apols for the delay in replying. Alas, we can't know for certain that the moth will survive (not just the weather but all the other hazards of its natural life such as birds, bats etc). But you did exactly the right thing in releasing it in a hideaway close to where you found the caterpillar. It must have been caterpillar-crawling distance from a food plant on which the adult, or its mate, will want to lay eggs - most commonly Rosebay Willowherb in the Elephant Hawk's case. Aren't they beautiful insects! I've not had one visit yet this year but they are regulars here.

Their one impulse as adult insects is to mate and many do not live at all long. The Emperor moth, for example, does not eat or drink at all and so has a very short life in which mating is all.

Here's hoping! I'd be optimistic myself

all warm wishes


Bee Hale said...

Thank you for your reply, not seen it or any others since but we do have a lot of bats here and black birds but I am optimistic that it did what it was meant to do. X