Sunday, 1 November 2015

Calendar girl (or possibly boy)

The beautiful and imaginative names of UK moths have often been applauded here, but there is an exception - when it comes to months. The September Thorn can be on the wing in July, the July Highflyer can be found as late as October (in the north and Scotland, admittedly), and now look at this.

It's a December Moth and last night saw the dawn of...the 1st of November. Really! Ignorant insect! However, as Dave Wilton says on the Upper Thames Moths blog in response to my posting a pic there:

Don't blame the moths! I imagine these seasonal names were correct when the Victorian vicars first applied them but we've burnt an awful lot of carbon since then. Maybe the next revision of the checklist could arbitrarily start correcting some of them (I'll propose "February, March & April Moth" for March Moth). They could even start putting right some of the misconceived scientific binomials - I know it is a butterfly but Thecla betulae springs immediately to mind, a species which has nothing to do with birch! 

This is a very interesting suggestion which points to an enjoyable and as yet unknown-to the-media way of plotting climatic and environmental change. Note one thing about the December Moth too; although it looks as though it is wearing a thick fur coat when at rest in the classic position - first two pictures - as soon as it flutters its wings, as below, you see that this garment is actually almost Aertex and suitable for mild spells such as the one which are enjoying here at the moment.

Another fur coat wearer shared the trap with the December Moth: this very handsome Sprawler. A couple of dozen other guests included a rather coffee-coloured Large Wainscot, a satisfyingly big member of its tribe which is currently calling by whenever I put out the trap.

I should add, seasonably, that the moths do not appear to have been distracted by this rival source of light in our garden last night. It flickered for a good couple of hours but eventually the effect of the flame shrank the lid which collapsed on top of the candle, snuffing it out.

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