Friday, 24 July 2015

Small but perfectly formed

After the showy delights of Blenheim butterfly house, UK moths inevitably seem a little low-key. But if you have time to examine them closely and unhurriedly, their modest virtues soon reappear.

The delicate creature topping the post was something I almost overlooked in the crowded eggboxes. Quite small - little more than an inch between wingtips, it has the classic Laura Ashley look of the 'Wave' family of moths, enhanced by that scalloped shape and the demure and simple colouring. The Single-dotted Wave shown left is another of this type. So too is the Yellow Shell below.

I got confused last year between two small moths which have rather similar wings, the Small Bloodvein and the Small Scallop. From advice given m then on the Upper Thames Moths blog, relating to the way the wings are held and the position of the four dots, I think that this is a rather pallidly coloured Small Bloodvein, but I will check it out again on UTM because I am so often wrong. Update: And I am. Peter Hall on UTM confirms that it's a Small Scallop.  Oh well, nearly...

A second new arrival for the year was this Gothic Moth, whose tracery of different greys must have reminded me the 18th century British moth-namers of the church architecture which surrounded them, as it does us today. A good comparison, don't you think?

The immigrant species, the Small Dotted Buff, is quite common this year, as other enthusiasts are reporting in this part of the UK. Here's my latest, below, followed by a handsome Marbled Minor or Small Marbled Minor and the micro Udea olivalis.

Lastly, I was ruminating about scale the other day, and my hope that readers would eventually become as familiar with the dimension of eggboxes as I have. To help, here is a Leopard moth palling up with a Grey or Dark Dagger on one of the box cones, whose standard size is an invaluable guide to the dimensions of my moths.

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