Friday, 11 November 2016

A moth! A moth!

I was pretty much convinced this morning that the trap would be empty again. Although last night was a little warmer, the frost returned during the small hours and the lawn was rimed with white when I tip-toed out at 7am to turn off the lamp.

Sure enough, the first 20-odd eggboxes were barren. But then - hooray! - I found a handsome Feathered Thorn sound asleep in the 21st, its russet, foxy colouring going well with the fading lemon yellow of the box.

You can see from the top picture why it is called 'Feathered' - those delicate antennae are one of the glories of the insect world which are denied to us mere humans. The nearest we get, I suppose, are eyebrows. The late Denis Healey's Darwinian ancestors must have included a moth.

The antennae are exclusive to the male (I don't recall Edna Healey's eyebrows, similarly) and he is much more likely to come to light than his mate.

The discovery put me in the cheery mood of shipwrecked mariners whose cry "A sail! A sail!" filled my childhood imagination with exciting notions of Robinson Crusoe and the Spanish Main.  A Feathered Thorn is not quite in that league, but at this time of the year it is a pleasure to play host to any moth.

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