Thursday, 24 September 2015

Tale of a tail

Moths are generally very samey when it comes to resting positions. When Penny and I came in last night, she (the unparalleled moth-spotter where insects outside the trap are concerned) noticed three of them sleeping happily in light drizzle below our porch light. All formed neat little triangles with their bodies and underwings well hidden even though they were otherwise very different-looking species: two Lunar Underwings and a Large Ranunculus.

Today's moth is different. One of the many Square-spot Rustics around at this time of year, it had pegged out rather thoroughly on the base of the moth trap's bowl. Update: I think today's commentor is right to re-identify this as a Small Square-spot. Many thanks. In the process it revealed its thickly tufted tail. When photographing moths, you get used to seeing a mop of hair or fur on the heads of recently-hatched specimens, which have yet to undergo the rigours of life including hair loss. But many are well endowed at the other end too. It is just that this feature is seldom seen.

If it was, this creature might be nicknamed 'Tufty', just as William Morris was known to his friends as 'Topsy' because of the impressive thatch on top of his large and imagination-packed head. I learned this satisfying fact only yesterday on a hugely enjoyable first visit to Kelmscott Manor which I can't recommend too much. You are never too old to discover new things.  Here is a cartoon of Topsy fishing in the Thames which runs alongside the Manor's grounds; like the Disciples, he is drawn by Dante Gabriel Rossetti innocently casting his bait on the wrong side of the boat.

Another visitor more observant than me kindly pointed out the (deliberate) butterfly reflection of the stair lamp. And among May Morris's treasures in a cabinet upstairs, there was a lovely foreign hawkmoth preserved, a variant I think of the Striped Hawk.


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin.

Enjoying the blog as ever. I think it's possible your Square-spot Rustic is a Small Square-spot, but I struggle with these myself and I've got a feeling your suspected Bee Moth from the previous post could be the migrant micromoth Rush Veneer.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hello! Verty nice to see you pop up with wise advice as ever. The moth was small and so I am sure you are right and I will update. Ditto with the Rush Veneer which I have had here in the past. Much obliged as ever all v best M