Sunday, 6 December 2015

Spring cleaning - in December

I suggested pupa-digging as a way of passing the time during the current dead season for moths - in which a Winter, November or December moth is about as exciting as things in the trap would be likely to get. A less strenuous way of looking for moths - and butterflies - is to do a bit of Spring cleaning ahead of time. That's how I found the Small Elephant Hawk and Peacock in the picture above.

Both are long-dead and partly decomposed - with interesting results fo any student of insect wing structure who might have had their attention caught by the membranes in the Peacock's damaged wing. It looks like a wartime aircraft returned from a mission with flak damage - an image which is sadly germane to the goings-on in today's wider world.

The Small Elephant Hawk is the second I've found dead this year. The Peacock is a much more common discovery, along with Small Tortoiseshells and occasionally Red Admirals, in nooks or behind furniture where dusters seldom venture. Be careful with these butterflies, though; many are not dead but sleeping, to emerge when the days get warm again.

My leisurely pace of blogging at the moment belies my intense activity on the page - reached by clicking of the tab above - called 364 and counting - my records. I am listing all the moths which have visited me both in Leeds and here in Oxfordshire, with photos. I hope it may be a useful aid to others engaged in this absorbing hobby when sorting IDs for the insects they find. I've just reached the end of moths beginning with C tonight. Excelsior!

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