Sunday, 23 April 2017

Chocolate treat

Some very cheerful moths this morning, starting off with a favourite of my granddaughter's: the Chocolate-tip. No need to ask why she is attracted to the bright little Spring arrival, although fortunately she hasn't tried to nibble one.

One of the things which I have learned gradually about moths over the years is that many have parts of the garden which they prefer. Ever since I saw a Chocolate-tip recorded on the ever-excellent Upper Thames Moths blog a couple of weeks ago, I have been meaning to move my trap to a corner where I have found Chocolate-tips before. Last night I did and Bingo!

Why they favour that patch, a corner shaded by hawthorn, magnolia and another ornamental tree whose ID I have yet to pin down, I am uncertain. The moth is only locally common, with an isolated population in parts of Scotland which is thought to have made it across from mainland Europe independently of its English relatrives. 

The Pale Prominent, another new arrival for 2017, is one of the most peculiar-looking of UK moths and it is a shame that the 18th century's usually highly inventive coiners of English names for insects suffered a lack of confidence with this one. Paleness is the least of its characteristics; something like the False Twig (for what marvellous camouflage it has) or the Jagged Dolphin (see the snout and serrated wing edge) would have been more memorable.

Finally, the Muslin moth has arrived which suggests that its relatives, the beautiful White and Buff Ermines, will not be long in coming. The male Muslin is a decorous Jane Eyre of a moth, superficially dull but a lovely, soft colour with neat black buttons when you have the chance to look more closely. The female, which does not come to light-traps but paradoxically enjoys flying by day, is white or pale cream.

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