Monday, 8 June 2015

Forward the Buff

In my stocktaking a week ago, I noted the absence of a number of regular partygoers so far this year, particularly some of the flashier ones such as the hawk moths - Elephant, Small Elephant, Lime, Eyed and Privet - along with two 'tipped' species, the Chocolate-tip and the Buff-tip.

They took the hint because, the following day, an Elephant Hawk appeared and then a Chocolate-tip. And now the excellent Buff-tip has joined the procession of latecomers. Here it is, face-on beside my grubby thumb, in the top picture.

The patterning of the moth wonderfully resembles a twig, although such examples of camouflage always set me wondering how many other potential predators see them in the way that humans do. Does a robin, for example, muddle a buff-tip with a broken scrap of wood in the way that we do? Does a mouse? It would be interesting to know if the resemblance, which is so striking to the human eye, is any more than that.

This moth had a narrow escape because it was sleeping on an unwanted seedling of feverfew which I was weeding out of our vegetable patch, shown in the smaller picture to the left. The Moth Bible says that Buff-tips, which come to light traps, may also "occasionally be found at rest during the day."  This was one such occasion. The discovery was not entirely by chance, however. I had run the light trap near to this spot the night before and I noticed, during my weeding epic, that a number of smaller moths fluttered out from the dandelions and buttercups which I was disturbing. It is always well worth examining the surroundings of the trap in the morning, if you have the time and not the duty to make morning tea (not teacup in the picture; this was afternoon tea).

The eggboxes this morning also contained a nice Pebble Prominent, one of a striking family which has also come in reduced numbers this year, plus the pretty Carpet moth below - could it be a Gallium rather than a Common?  I fear probably not.  Update: as my kind commentor suggests, and as Dave Wilton confirms (see next post), it is a Silver-ground Carpet, beautiful name.  The grey one following it is a bit uncertain,  either a Rustic Shoulder-knot with the knots hidden by the fur, or a Large Nutmeg in less than tip-top condition. The weather has entered a very nice, sunny spell but it remains cool at night and there are still fewer moths in total than at in early June last year.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Checking the herbs during my gardening spell, I found this dear little character fluttering round, unable to decide between mint, fennel and thyme. Shades of Simon and Garfunkel. I think it's the micro Pyrausta despicata which flies in sunshine, according to the micro-moth Bible. Update: But Dave corrects me; this Pyrausta aurata, known vulgarly but appropriately as the Mint Moth.


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin

If it's not one of those you mentioned, have you considered Silver-ground Carpet for third from bottom? Great comparison shot of the Buff-tip and stick also.

Martin Wainwright said...

Belated thanks, very much for that, which Dave Wilton confirms, not that that was necessary. I really appreciate your ID skills

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