Saturday, 1 April 2017

April Fool's

I ought to have contrived a moth-related April Fool this morning but although I wrote a history of such pranks - behold and (maybe) buy here because it's super-cheap - I've never been very good at them. All that I could think of was revealing some unlikely specimen from my moth trap. So instead, here is a note from the excellent Museum of Hoaxes website about one which wasn't, though it fooled my old employer with both the text and the picture shown here:

"London's Daily Telegraph ran an article about a curious new device called the Barnes Wallis Moth Machine, which was a microlight airplane that could skim over the Indonesian rainforest canopy at speeds up to 50 mph, scooping up moths as it went. It attracted the moths by means of powerful ultraviolet lights mounted on its front. The machine was said to have been given its name because it used the same technology as the 617 Squadron which released Barnes Wallis's bouncing bombs during the Dambuster raids of 1943. There were plans to use the machine on a scientific expedition to the Bengkulu region of the island of Sumatra — the first such expedition since Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles's expedition there in 1820. 

The Guardian subsequently identified this story as an April Fool's Day joke. However, the joke was on the Guardian, because the Barnes Wallis Moth Machine was quite real. As the Daily Telegraph later gloated, "our science editor's lepidopterous scoop was genuine."

As a veteran myself of a similar expedition to Sulawesi, I think that I can say genuinely that I would not have been fooled. But I am very susceptible.

So to the last moths of March from my trap, starting with the handsome pair above, a Brindled Beauty and an Oak Beauty, both deserving of the second part of their name.  I was also pleased to have a newcomer to my overall list, below, a White-marked moth whose status is 'local' rather than 'common'. I think that it has probably called before without my recognising it - regular readers will be all too familiar with my ID weaknesses on this kind of moth. But I must now add it to my What Moth is That? page here. In the first picture, it's the one on the left, turning its back on a Hebrew Character. In the second, observe it on its own:

It was also good to welcome a Twin-spotted Quaker, new for the year and smartly marked with the dots which account for its name. Finally, many thanks to Peter Hall, one of the kind experts from the Upper Thames Moths blog, for ID-ing this micro, below, as Depressaria chaerophylii (a rather sad-sounding name whose etymology I must track down) and suggesting that the final two moths shown today in lousy photos cos of the black plastic trap bowl (and my incompetence) as an Early Thorn with its characteristic 'butterfly' wings folded vertically, and the Plume micro Emmelina monodactylla.  Many thanks.

Oh, and just to add a picture of a visitor to the garden which is not a moth:

Don't get Fooled!

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