Monday, 25 July 2016

The moths just keep coming

Now is the moths' high noon, or high night rather, and I could publish three or four posts every day, were it not for my concern about boring the world with too much on the subject. They just keep flying in. Here, for example, is a lovely Poplar Kitten, one of the 'cat' family of moths whose name derives from the small ear-like objects on the heads of their caterpillars when young, which make them resemble kittens and cats. What lovely colouring and delicate patterns this moth has!  Yum!

The one in my top two pictures came on Friday night; this morning I found the one below which is much smaller in the trap.

Next comes a pretty, small moth with an attractive name: the Small Rivulet, which I take to derive from the bubbling stream-like band of white across its chocolate-coloured wings. I have to add that it may be a standard Rivulet which is extremely similar but a bit bigger.  I will opt, however, for the Small version on the basis of Richard Lewington's brilliant paintings from the Moth Bible, left. As you can see from my red ticks, I am a bit of a trainspotter (like most amateur moth enthusiasts, I think). Both species have visited me.

I was glad to see this one looking docile among the eggboxes because one of its relatives led me a merry dance last week. It fluttered off as soon as I moved its eggbox and I thought that I had lost it. But I watched it as far as a gooseberry bush and spotted where it had hidden. I was rather proud of this achievement and luckily there were no gooseberry thorns positioned to prevent me getting the photo below. I can tell precisely whether it is a Rivulet or Small Rivulet, but the size and detail of the 'stream' again suggest the latter.

When I saw the next moth in the trap, I had that immediate: "Ooh, something different" feeling and I think that its dark band makes it form conversaria of the Mottled Beauty which I don't recall seeing before, either here or in Leeds. Update: this is age at work, however. Checking back,  I found that one arrived in July two years ago, duly baffled me and was then kindly identified by Peter Hall on the Upper Thames Moths blog. It was noticeably darker so this one may just be a browner version of the standard type. Further (dramatic) update: The same kindly expert has had a look at this one and reveals that it isn't a Mottled Beauty at all. Oh dearie me, I am slipping. It is a Phoenix.The Beauties are woodland moths, quite large but also dainty with slim bodies and a gracefully languid flight. The Phoenix ditto, if slightly less languid.

I apologised for my failure to get a picture the other day of a Yellwtail's yellow tail. I wasn't quick enough before it skittered away. Now I have one, below, not sticking up in the most photogenic position used by the moth, k but visible nonetheless beneath the demure folds of white wing. The second picture is of a female yellowtail. The male does not have the little trio of brown marks.

On we go, and here is a lovely moth which is related to - and considerably more beautiful than, the Silver Ys which recently infested the Euro 16 Cup Final.  Ironically, its name undersells it on exactly this score. Laughably, it is called a Plain Golden Y, to separate from the Beautiful Golden Y. The latter has a slightly more complex pattern but few other advantages to land my visitor, shown below, with the adjective 'plain'.

The Common and Lesser Common Rustics, indistinguishable without genital examination which isn't my thing, have often come in for stick here. In contrast to this fussy anatomical difference, they show wild abandon when it comes to background colour on their wings.  The Moth Bible shows six different forms for the Common Rustic alone and accurately calls the moth 'extremely variable'.  Here are some examples from the trap below:

Snuggling up to a Dark Arches
Making friends with a Scalloped Oak Update: except that, as per yesterday's correction, this one is not a Common Rustic but a well-named Dot Moth. Further update: Sorry, I have been too hasty with my self-correcting As my kindly commentor says. This one IS a Lesser/Common Rustic. It was only yesterday's Dot Moth that I got wrong. 
Lesser/Common Rustic brothers beneath the wing - sorry the top one is blurred
Hawk moths are meanwhile coming in reasonable numbers; here are two Poplar Hawks and below them a nice Elephant Hawk:

Now for a nice Carpet moth, I think the Large Twin-spot, and below that with a Mother of Pearl moth (super-abundant just now) what I think is a Spruce Carpet, though I am not sure.

Talking of Mother of Pearls - one of the largest of the UK's 'micro' moths and considerably larger than many 'macros' - here is one showing how the wings owe something of their pearliness to being translucent, in this case allowing a little of the eggbox's orange to shimmer through.

Phew!  I will now content myself with simple captions and go and start to sort out another load of backlog moths...


The year's first Dun-bar, which I suspect will feature in many mornings to come
Common Emerald
Nut-tree Tussock
The Bird-cherry Ermine, Yponomeuta econymella, a tiny micro whose pupating webs can envelop whole trees causing 'Moth doom' headlines in the media

I need a bit more time to sort this micro; may do it over early morning tea  Update: thanks to a handy reference by Dave Morris on the Upper Thames Moths blog, I am pretty sure that it is Epiblema foenella.

Female Ghost Moth with Heart and Dart

Scarce Footman

And lastly, yet another of the moths which baffle mw, though it may just be some sort of Marbled Minor


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin

Personally, barring the Mottled Beauty, I thought you had them all correct first time. I too would have gone for one of the Common Rustics.

Martin Wainwright said...

Thanks so much! You have restored my self-confidence (but stand by for the next bungle...)

all best, M