Monday, 9 May 2016

Something new, something Green

A wholly new moth arrived last night, an increasingly rare occurrence as I toddle into my twelfth year of running the trap. Behold a Frosted Green, a darkly handsome creature with a greenish tone to its black and grey patterning. It's classified as 'local', or common in some places (especially in the south of England) but less so in others. And very welcome it is here.

It was another good night for other reasons: the year's first Cinnabar came calling, a moth which shares the green-black relationship of the Frosted Green albeit in a different way. Often described as a red and green moth, it is actually red and black, but the effect of light at different angles often gives the impression of a green sheen. Unusually, my photo shows it as undeniably (and accurately) black.

By chance, the moth's position on the eggbox text has turned a letter 'g' into what looks like a pair of specs perched on the Cinnabar's head - a timely curiosity because last night's catch also included a Spectacle moth. Seen from above, as in the second picture below, this bears no resemblance to a pair of spectacles. Indeed you may be wondering why it is not known as the Moustache Moth after studying the pattern.

But look at this picture, below, of the moth's head seen from the front. Aha! All is explained.

Another interesting newcomer for the year was the Waved Umber below. I was looking at it with Penny and the granddaughter and the latter immediately got the point of the former's exclamation: "What brilliant camouflage for hiding on a tree trunk."  So it is, a very fine combination of appropriate colours and a measure of optical 'dazzle' to mask the insect's shape.

There were various pugs and micros in the eggboxes too, plus a Green Carpet and a large black beetle along with this minute mini-micro which looks like a prisoner in solitary pining for freedom. I have work to do, to try to establish his or her ID.

Meanwhile the school for Emperor Moth caterpillars is developing fast and I plan to release the little chaps in the wild tomorrow.  The pictures below show interestingly different rates of development, considering that these are brothers and sisters from the same clutch. Here for a start are three separate instars, or stages of development, munching hawthorn together:

Then three sturdy chaps and their less-developed sibling:

And finally a newcomer to the latest instar with his or her sloughed-off skin from the previous stage on the twig behind:

My Mum used to keep us going on boring walks in childhood by giving us young hawthorn leaves to nibble and telling us that country folk knew the snack as 'bread and cheese'. There never seemed to be the remotest similarity to us, but the leaves had a slightly refreshing, salady sort of effect.


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin

I want an Emperor!!
For your black and white micro, I was thinking Teleiodes luculella, but I've changed my mind and am going to have a punt on Mompha subbistrigella.

MartinWainwright said...

Hi there and thanks so much for those suggestions. I'll check them out in the Micro Bible

all warmest - and hoping you get an Emperor

Sorry mine are all now at large