Thursday, 9 June 2016

Cats online

Data shows that cats are one of the internet's huge attractions - recent examples have been the use of moggy pictures to illustrate anti-terrorist alerts in Brussels and, currently, pictures of cats apparently expressing horror, alarm and incredulity at some of the 'facts' being hurled about in the EU referendum debate.

So maybe the small but very attractive family of cat-related moths (related purely in terms of their names) may do the same for us moth enthusiasts. I will try to mention cats at every opportunity.

One such came my way the other night with a visit from a Sallow Kitten, top pic, one of the for members of the cat-moth group. The others are the Puss Moth, a very fine creature which never came to Leeds but has visited me here, the Alder Kitten and the Poplar Kitten.

There is little obviously cat-like about them, although they do appear to be crouching when at rest, a little like a cat which has just spotted a nearby mouse or shrew. The name comes from two tufts on their strokeably woolly heads which from the front - I will have to remember to get a frontal picture next time one calls - resembles cats' ears.

From cats to magpies. Above and below are some Small Magpies, one of the UK's micro-moths which are not micro in the physical sense, but have been ruled to be by taxonomists. It is so large (for a micro) that the Moth Bible ranks it first on an illustrated page of micros which might be mistaken for macros. Its Linnaean name has recently been changed from Eurrhypara hortulata to Ananaia hortulata, however, and such things are constantly under review in the scientific world, so maybe it will one day earn macro status.

Here are a couple of pictures of another large micro, the Garden Pebble, or Evergestis forficalis, which is easily big enough to deserve the macro status given to the two moths which follow it, below: the Grass Rivulet and the Straw Dot.

And, while in this delicate and small-scale part of the moth world, here is a dainty foursome, all small but all macro moths: a Clouded Border with a tiny pal, a Clouded Silver (lovely moth), a Common Wave and a White-pinion Spotted (apologies for the poor picture of the last, with the reflective black tub throwing my camera and myself into confusion).

And finally, since we are in a black-and-white world, here are a couple of Peppered Moths which have called in the last week, no doubt to celebrate the huge and very welcome surge of publicity about genetic discoveries relating to the species' famous changes between standard and dark, melanic versions. See for example this piece here.

I'm not 100 percent sure about the other moth, but think it is a Poplar Grey

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