Monday, 10 October 2016

Marvellous indeed

One of the stars of my moth year has arrived, dead on cue: the beautifully-named Merveille du Jour which is also a delightfully coloured and patterned moth.  I spotted two of them clinging to eggbox cones when I went to get the trap; the third was tucked in another eggbox lower down. I never had them in Leeds, although a friend played host to them regularly in Scarborough. But here in Oxfordshire they have come every year, always in early mid-October.

I too some initial pictures which were enlivened by an ichneumon wasp, whose pose with one of the Merveilles resembled, in may mind at least, a couple of the negotiators of the UK's shambolic 'brexit' (an ugly word for an act of wondrous stupidity; let's hope that realities bring enough people to their senses to prevent it happening).

The ichneumon wasp was particularly appropriate. They are horrid creatures, at least to the kindly human eye, because they lay eggs in caterpillars which hatch into larvae which eat their host alive. Even as a boy, I nursed a great dislike of them and I remember that when a butterfly commentatot called L.Hugh Newman seemed to be omnipresent and frequently off-beam in his observations, my father and I renamed him 'Ich-Newman'.

Anyway, back to the happier subject of the Merveilles.  During the phoyo session, I noticed that the leaf colours of a nearby lungwort, or pulmonaria, were very similar to the moths. Hoping that the trio would be sleepy enough not to object, I decanted them on to a couple of leaves. The result is the picture at the top of the post.

My other source of happiness at the moment is the number of Red Admiral butterflies about - can you see all four in the picture of ivy surrounding an upturned wheelbarrow?  There was a rather gloomy item about butterfly numbers in 2016 on Radio 4's Today programme yesterday, but the expert did at least acknowledge that Red Admirals are currently flying and basking on walls and plants in good numbers. I hope that you get to see some too.

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