Thursday, 28 July 2016

Leading lights

As with humans, so with moths. Among the generality of the insects, there are certain families which stand out. Pre-eminently the Hawk moths which often feature here; likewise the Tigers, which have been represented on this blog by the Garden and Scarlet versions. To them, in the premier league, I would add the Prominents; regular visitors and not rare (apart from the White Prominent which I hope to see in its last toehold of Ireland before I go to the land of eternal, mothy bliss).

Two came on Monday night and both showed why I like them. What curious shapes. What a difference from your average dart-shaped moth. The first is the splendidly and accurately named Coxcomb Prominent. The second, the bizarre Pale Prominent which resembles a half-eaten Cadbury's chocolate flake.

A second group of the family is very different: sleek and crouching when at rest, like a big cat hunting or a sports car. Most sleeping moths look dead to the world. These Prominents give the impression that they have half an eye open. One eggbox in particular was rich in them - above. Two Pebble Prominents and a Lesser Swallow Prominent. Here they, closer too: 

The Lesser Swallow from the side, as per the illustration in the Moth Bible
And from above. A fine moth.
And here's the Pebble from the side. This one looks as though it is lecturing a small pupil on the facts of mothy life.

The night also brought me a Marbled Green (top above) and a Marbled Beauty (the one below), small but peerlessly patterned moths with slight, subtle distinctions which my photographs illustrate, I hope. These are prime candidates for use against those who erroneously hold that UK moths are brown and boring. Anything but.

Ditto the Peppered Moth, above, not just a beautiful creature but one with a terrific history which I have often rehearsed here - see this link for example. Finally, an interesting little micro Hypsopygia glaucinalis gave me another moth new to my records. Its caterpillars have unusual tastes, finding sustenance in decaying grasses in haystacks, birds' nests and thatched roofs such as the one which I have built for my granddaughter's tree house.

Hypsopygia in shade

And in the light of day
Ideal home for Hypsopygia larvae

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