Friday, 10 June 2016

Moth Night

We are in the middle of 'Moth Night', the annual celebration of moth recorders and their contribution to science which also aims to increase public interest in the subject. It's a very good time of the year to lay on a jamboree which includes events designed to show people a moth trap in action for the first time.

For scientific reasons involving the coverage of moth numbers throughout the year, Moth Night - which is actually three successive nights, this year June 9th - 11th - sometimes falls at an unproductive season when children in particular may feel let down by sparse numbers or superficially uninteresting moths when the eggboxes are inspected. That shouldn't be the case at this time of the year, as my own recent hawk moth bonanza suggests.

No more hawks to show this morning, although there was a Lime one sleeping comfortably away in the trap. But the top three pictures show two interesting visitors: the Angle Shades and the Small Angle Shades. 

The bigger moth is particularly noteworthy with a very unusual way of tighly-folding and curving its rakish wings, as shown in the second photograph which I took from an unflattering angle, giving unusual prominence to the insect's bottom. It is one of the fines-looking of UK moths in what you might call 'aviation terms'. I feel sure that its sleek shape has influenced military aircraft design. It even has its own subdued version of RAF roundels on its wings.

The Small Angle Shades is shown in my third picture, a very smart moth with a nice touch of blue, the rarest colour to be found in UK moths, for reasons which I have yet to see explained. A close cousin of the Angle Shades, it shares the resting habit of its larger relation by pulling back and creasing its wings. 

Here's another sleek arrival, the Swallow Prominent, although it reminds me more of a racing car than a jet plane. Its fine lines are notably not shared by other members of its family who have also arrived at the same time. The Coxcomb Prominent and Pale Prominent are the equivalent in the moth world of humans unkindly described as having 'faces made for radio'. But maybe all the more interesting to look at, for that.

But to be fair, when the Pale Prominent is goaded away from its resting position, as I organised this morning, it too can reveal the shape of a pretty formidable-looking flying machine - as below:

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