Sunday, 17 May 2015

I shall go cross-gartered

Last night I put the trap in a corner of the garden which seems to be the favourite meeting place of Common Swifts, pretty little moths with variable markings and a pronounced quiff of hair like Tommy Steele's.  He was my pop hero when I was small, especially when I spent a week in Leeds General Infirmary after shooting an arrow into the sky with my home-made bow and watching it come all the way down until, Harold-like, it hit me in the eye. The boy in the bed next to mine was an Elvis Presley supporter and our vigorous battles definitely helped my full recovery.

At the risk of diverting wildly from moths, I must just add that I was discharged three days before Christmas, to my great regret. Why? My home was happy and loving, but you should have seen the pile of presents donated by kind-hearted souls and institutions to the children's ward. If you weren't there at Christmas, you didn't get one.

Anyway, above are three differently marked Common Swifts from the dozen or so in the eggboxes. The species is reckoned to be 'primitive' by the moth authorities because it has no means of eating and therefore cannot live long. Yet its pre-adult life cycle lasts for two years, with the caterpillar pupating and spending two years underground.

I've featured the smartly-dressed Muslin moth twice here in the last week and this morning there was another one in the trap and a second lying casually in the nearby grass. The latter's languid stance reminded me of yesterday's White Ermine moth and the pictures are usefully compared to see how these two species - very different from above or at a casual glance, are related. They share the same spotted and dotted bodies - and look: while complementing the Muslin moth on its tasteful appearance, I quite forgot to mention its startling yellow leggings. Veritably the Malvolio of the tribe.

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