Sunday, 11 December 2016

Birthday girl

Yesterday saw the birthday not only of the granddaughter - a famous friend of moths - but her Mum, who isn't over-keen on insects of any kind. Bound for their party, I faced a dilemma: whether to take a moth for the little one (assuming that anything had arrived in the trap), or not.

In the event, I did, as grandchild's enthusiasm is greater than Mum's polite preference for avoiding moths where possible. Thus a small piece of insect distribution was carried out in the form of a neat and helpfully sleepy December Moth which travelled down the M40 in a plastic butter carton, joined a very noisy party for about five minutes and then winged it into the London dusk.

"Grandpa, are you a little bit sad that the moth has flown away," asked the tot, who was very pleased with the brief encounter after a hectic and excellent session of games with her friends and an entertainer in the guise of the famous Princess Elsa from Frozen. Mum played gamely along too, when the tiny visitor was shown to her before it scarpered - top pic.

Otherwise, it was nice to see this pretty micro below in the eggboxes. I need confirmation but it looks to me like Epiphyas postvittana or the Light Brown Apple Moth.  First identified in 1863, this minute species made it to the UK from Australia via marine cargo in the 1930s and is now thoroughly at home.

I should be annoyed up to a point, as it is a major pest of apple trees and we have one. But it's so nice to have mothy company in mid-December that I forgive it. I'm also pleased that my current moth visitor book exactly tallies with that superb guide to moth ID, Hants Moths' 'Flying Tonight' web page. Its top four at the moment are Winter, December, Mottled Umber and Light Brown Apple. Ditto here.

Finally, here is the other eggbox occupant, a Winter Moth, from below.


Tamara Hill said...

I still believe that moths has use in our ecosystem though some of them become pest.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi Tamara - yes they certainly have a place, if only to feed a lot of birds! And their behaviour and characteristics have taught us a lot about all manner of things from flight to camouflage. It's true too that some are pests - serious pests - for agriculture. Clothes moths on the other hand onloy come from two main species, though there are an awful lot of them about. Merry Christmas and all best, M