Saturday, 12 November 2016

Gentleman in furs

One of my favourite moths, and almost certainly the last newcomer for this year, was sleeping in the eggboxes this morning. It had been a foul night and even the simple but highly effective rain shield devised by Mr and Mrs Robinson, inventors of my moth trap, had not been able to keep the rain out. The bottom of the big black bowl was awash and several boxes resembled small ponds. Luckily my moth was high and dry above the flood.

It is a December Moth, a handsome flyer very late in the year which appropriately wears the moth equivalent of a fur coat. My grandparents' generation was probably the last in England to wear furs as a matter of course, animal welfare counting for rather less in those days. Now that synthetic versions are pretty much indistinguishable, I'd like to see them being worn again. In wintertime, they look cuddly as well as good.

Ready for take-off; please forgive blurring of moving wings

The December moth is a relative of the Eggars, rich-brown coloured insects familiar to most schoolboys who bred their caterpillars and those of their cousin, the Drinker. The latter were easy to find as come early evening they crept up grass stalks to sip at the early dew, hence their name.

The moth was extremely welcome as my granddaughter also came to stay last night and she has a touching faith in my ability to serve up some interesting moths for her inspection in the morning. I was prepared for my reputation to be sullied after a couple of completely barren nights on the trap's most recent excursions. But as well as the December moth, there was also a pretty Green-brindled Crescent (below). She approved of them both. Observe her approving eye in my second picture.

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