Saturday, 18 June 2016


The Snout moth is one of the peculiarities of the year's regular round. No need, I think, to explain its name; those palps - a form of sensor as distinctive to insects as antennae - are the finest you'll see on the wing in the UK.

Topping that, its also has a V-bomber shape when at rest which gives it a formidable appearance, down to the neatly curved tips of the forewings. The banded patterning meanwhile makes for useful camouflage on tree trunks, fences and the like.

Another new arrival for the year is this Turnip moth - I am fairly sure -with its rather complex take on the familiar 'heart and dart/club' design of many smallish, brown/grey moths' wings. Its caterpillars are part of country lore under their nickname of 'cutworms' - and apt description of what they do to the roots of carrots, turnips and other crops which, luckily, we are not growing this year. 

Welcome too to the first of the year's Large Yellow Underwings, a species so plentiful in Leeds that I often wished they could find somewhere else.  It is cuddling up to a Marbled Minor or Lesser Marbled Minor, species which need microscopic work to tell them apart.

The Wainscots are an appealing family and I specially like the Smokey Wainscots, shown here with its dusty lines on the creamy background. That sort of pattern which has Penny instinctively reaching for the Hoover.

It's something of a star in my book but the Common Wainscot shown below deserves the thumbs-up I'm giving it too. The name for this pretty group of moths comes from 18th century entomologists' opinion that the look resembles delicately carved wooden panelling, painted a tasteful Farrow & Ball pastel shade.

Now for some carpets, of the mothy rather than decorating kind: a Silver-ground if I am not mistaken, followed by a Common Marbled, one of the larger of the brethren and noted for the variation in its patterns. This type, with its large splodge of bronze, is my favourite, if only because it is highly recognisable. Even to me.

Next we have a Poplar Grey, a very natty moth, and then I hope that you will forgive me indulging myself with some pictures of Ermines, Buff and White, which are among my favourite UK moths. The middle picture nicely shows the two of the main types of patterning in the rather variable Buff, one with a pronounced row of black dots and the other less heavily sprinkled.

More indulgence, below, with another of my top visitors, the Spectacle moth, peering at one of the millions of immigrant Diamond-backed micros which have come to the UK this months. And I couldn't resist the contortions of the Poplar Hawk below it, like someone playing Twister.

Finally, in this rather lengthy catch-up - sorry - after grandchild mayhem, we have an immigrant Silver Y and a delicate newcomer for this year, the Mottled Beauty.

And finally, finally, lastly, I think that these little specks are moth eggs (in a the apt setting of a swanky eggbox) rather than poo. But I couldn't cope with the combination of the grandchildren and trying to puzzle things out further, so I tipped them discreetly on to various pieces of herbage where I hope that they flourish (or nourish by decomposing, if they are poo after all).


richard bartlett said...

Hi Martin,

I think your Smoky Wainscot might be an Obscure Wainscot. Do you have any more photos of it?


Anonymous said...

yes, I think I would be more inclined towards Obscure Wainscot personally.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi both and many apols for the delay. Thanks very much for pointing this out - and I think that the Obscure Wainscot would be new for me. I will check and also see if I have more pics. Just got to make the morning tea... All warmest wishes and thanks again M