Monday, 24 October 2016

Return of the striped pyjamas

Unusually, given the weather, I pottered out to inspect this morning's moths in my striped pyjamas - familiar and I hope beloved so far as regular readers are concerned. They lend a pleasant pool of blue to the otherwise rather Autumnal shades of the season's moths.

I have been a bit lax about what entomologists know as the Epirrita, four moths which are abundant at this time of the year and are, in the accurate words of the Moth Bible, 'at first sight, confusingly similar'.  I would amend this observation to say 'and at all subsequent sightings' and I dare not pronounce on each one with any confidence at all.

As a result, I have been referring to them in recent posts variously as Autumnal or November moths. The truth is, they could any one of the following four: Autumnal Moth, Small Autumnal Moth, November Moth or Pale November Moth. The Bible recommends all manner of sophisticated methods to distinguish them apart, including hand-lens, low-powered microscope, genital examination and the removal of some scales after temporary anaesthetics with something called ethyl acetate. I am afraid that I am not prepared to do any of these things and will ask you to assume that most of my specimens, including the rather fine one above, are November Moths, which are by some stretch the most common.  Sorry.

Meanwhile, amid the Black Rustics, Green-brindled Crescents, Beaded Chestnuts, Large Wainscots and other nightly regulars, here is a Sallow Moth, the first for a few weeks, and below what I think is a rather battered Lunar Underwing of the russet brown sort.

Finally, and also the first for a while, a Deep-brown Dart, a flying mate of the Black Rustic albeit a little scarcer.

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