Monday, 11 May 2015

Would you eat needles?



The blackbird was up to its window antics again this morning but I bustled past to the moth trap, confident of better things after a warm night. I didn't turn the light on 'til gone ten but there was still a nice variety of visitors dozing away.

Here they are: a distinctively-shaped Small Waved Umber, above, and the delightfully patterned little moth the Pine Beauty, below.


The latter's caterpillar lives off pine needles of which there are plenty in the pub garden next door. But what a diet! It reminds me of the poem composed in the 1920s, rather callously during a time of food shortages in the fledgling Soviet Union:

On Nevsky Bridge a Russian stood
Chewing his beard for lack of food.
He said: "This stuff is hard to eat
But a darn sight better than Shredded Wheat."

It has never been my favourite cereal either.

Returning to moths, the rest of the tally coincided closely with the most popular arrivals currently on that outstanding website for baffled moth-identifyers, Hants Moths Flying Tonight. A Poplar Hawk consorted with three Maybugs, a Brimstone moth lit up the dark bowl of the trap with its sulphurous yellow and a Shuttle-shaped Dart (left) shared an eggbox with what I think is a Heart and Dart (below), the latter pair new to the garden this season. Update: But hang on a minute...



I'm going to check that one with the experts on the Upper Thames Moths blog, or Ben or any other of the equal-experts who kindly keep me in order via Comments here. Ditto this Footman moth of some kind. But which? Update 2: all is revealed, thanks to Ben and Trent in Comments here and Martin Townsend on the UTM blog. The 'Heart and Dart' is a worn Hebrew Character and the footman is a worn Orange Footman. Very many thanks to all.


Finally, I was made happy by the appearance of another of the Prominent moth family which rest so sleekly, looking like cats either trying to hide or preparing to pounce. Here it is below, an Iron Prominent, followed in conclusion by proof that the camera does lie. My final picture is of a male Muslin Moth, as featured a couple of posts ago. The previous photo showed the species' drab grey colouring accurately. This one, with the lens perplexed by the gloom of the trap bowl, has greatly softened the colour. Beautiful, but  misleading.