Sunday, 22 May 2016


Discussing the Muslin moth the other day, I referred to its grander relations, the Ermine family. Here is one of them which arrived this morning in pristine condition, with its House of Lords robe (update: see foot of post) looking very fine indeed. It is a common but lovely creature, all the better for being discovered a little more frequently than most moths. 

I remember a teenage cousin coming downstairs with one which he had found snoozing in the fold of a curtain, and how he was struck by its delicate appearance, at a slightly unlikely age for such things. (Nigel Fotherington-Thomas of 'Hello clouds! Hello sky!' fame in Ronald Searle's Molesworth books put a lot of boys off too much overt nature appreciation).

There have been some other welcome newcomers for the year over the last few nights, along with the veritable plague of Common Swifts. Here they are: first a Lychnis with its striking X pattern,

then a Treble Lines, a moth with a cautious caterpillar which feeds by night and hides in soil or undergrowth by day. Update: I overlooked a second Treble Lines, shown below, with a greyer ground colouring compared to the first, brownish one.

And here's that weird little fellow, the Flame, which resembles the stub of a cheap fag.

Its near namesake the Flame Shoulder is a finer fellow which prompts one of the rare quips (and exclamation marks) in the Moth Bible which says of it: 'Comes to light, when it flies wildly and has an unfortunate habit of entering the ears of moth recorders near the light!' Mine was well over such pranks when I finally got to it at 7am, and willingly co-operated with a short photo session to reveal its charms.

Further update. We took friends to the outstanding Broughton Castle today, a wonderful place lived in by a marvellously hospitable family, the Fiennes, who are almost always there and happy to chat and point out interesting 'extra' things. Among these were sets of the ermine-lined peers' robes which I referred to at the start of this post. Here's a pic, below, to show the similarity with the moth.  (Not that there was any sign of clothes moth damage on the robes).

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