Saturday, 6 June 2015

Tussocking around

Good moths continue and in some abundance, in spite of the weather turning a little colder last night. I was struck, on taking out the eggboxes, by the different resting positions of the inhabitants, some hunkered down with their wings tightly folded over their backs, others with all four wings splayed out as if they might have some hope of enjoying the sun (or perhaps the moon, moths being largely nocturnal).

One pair of today's arrivals have a third posture, stretched out like a cat doing its morning exercises with their wooly forefeet reaching forward. In an attempt to show both of them together, a darkly-coloured Iron Prominent and a fine Pale Tussock, I disturbed the latter and so caught an unusual glimpse of its underwings - top photo - held out butterfly-style.

Moths' resting positions are generally assumed to owe everything to camouflage although I have noticed that remaining absolutely motionless seems to be an effective defence against birds. Nosy ones, especially robins, sometimes examine the eggboxes when my attention is distracted and often miss a nice juicy moth sitting literally under their beaks. Some moths, too, positively advertise their presence; one of them is the Cinnabar in the photo above. The red flashes and spots of the adult insect and the yellow and black banding of the caterpillar (check out ragwort for these next month) both underline the fact that the Cinnabar is seriously poisonous. Interesting that yellow and black has also been chosen for humanity's nuclear warning signs.

A friend emailed me yesterday and said, inter alia, that her current favourite moth name was 'Setaceous Hebrew Character'. My first of the season duly arrived this morning - pic above. Like the Hebrew Character moth, it takes its name from the bold outline on its wings resembling the Hebrew letter 'Nun', or 'N', although the two insects are not related. The word 'setaceous' means 'bristly' and doubtless the microscopic examination of genitalia carried out by real moth experts has something to do with this. To the lay observer, there is nothing unshaven or hairy about the SHC.

Here are some of the other arrivals, whose names I will update as ever after my morning cup of tea. I feel like having that now and, more important, so will Penny who is just emerging from the Land of Nod.

Common Wainscot; beautifully delicate and simple

This year's first Large Yellow Underwing

Update (thanks to learned commentor below): I agree that this is a Common Carpet (which I should have recognised but there we go; some conditions are lifelong)

Common Marbled Carpet with its peeping 'eyes'

Update: My commentor goes for Chrystoteuchia culmella and who am I to disagree? Many thanks again Further update: actually Dave Wilton says that it's too early for that and this is Crambus lathionellas. Shows, reassuringly, how tricky IDs can be...

Update: and I also agree that this a Brown Rustic, reminiscent of a sun-tanned character from Thomas Hardy

Silver-ground Carpet, nice name

Update: finally, I think Large Nutmeg is correct here too. But nope: Dave diagnoses Rustic Shoulder-knot.

A Clouded-bordered Brindle hiding under the trap bowl rim

I enticed him (or her) out for a fuller picture


Anonymous said...

The four missing names coincidentally in order of confidence. I'm guessing Common Carpet, Chrysoteuchia culmella, Brown Rustic and Large Nutmeg. By no means certain though.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hiya and thanks so much - I think you are right on all counts and I have updated. all warmest M

Bennyboymothman said...

3rd fromm bottom, a Rustic Shoulder-knot.

Anonymous said...

Oh well, so close! To be corrected by Bennyboymothman is an honour!

Anonymous said...

Oh well, half right then! To be corrected by Dave Wilton is also an honour! They both look much more obvious once you know what they are, the hard part will be trying to remember where I went wrong in the future.

Martin Wainwright said...

Please keep them coming! i'm most grateful for your keener eyes, and brain

aa v best as ever