Saturday, 6 May 2017

Life can be tough

I am always excited by the arrival of the season's first hawk moth, even if these giants of the moth world include very common species. One such made its debut last night, the Poplar Hawk above which earns the title of Newcomer of 2017, although it looks as if it has been round for quite a while.

That's the implication of that tattered wing. I showed a picture of a crashed World War 1 biplane the other day, to illustrate the flimsiness of moth and butterfly wings, and this looks like one of Biggles' machines after a thorough strafing. Bird attack or entanglement in foliage - who knows? But most likely the former, as moths are expert fliers.

The second moth is very prettily patterned though my camera - or rather my handling of it - doesn't always produce an image precisely true to the colours. To my eyes, the actual moth was more vibrant and the eggbox is certainly more orange. But there we are, and this is a Knot Grass (I am pretty sure; my skills waver with this type of moth, as with many others), a relative of the Grey or Dark Dagger which called yesterday.

In the background you can see the unmistakably shrimp-like form of a Chocolate-tip, no surprise as I placed the lamp in 'their' part of the garden from which they seldom stray. Here it is, closer to:

Another distinctive visitor, also a newcomer for this year, is the Shuttle-shape Dart below, with the reason for its name showing clearly, I hope, on the wing pattern and reminding me of the textile mills around my former trapping ground on the border between Bradford and Leeds.

Finally, on the titchier side compared to the big Poplar Hawk, today's micro-moth visitor leaves me umming and erring as usual, though it looks familiar. One of the Cnephasia, perhaps..?  Update: I put the question to the experts on the Upper Thames Moths blog and they came to the same conclusion: a Cnephasia but impossible to tell which without genital examination which usually means curtains for the moth. So not my cup of tea and this must remain in the general category Cnephasia spp.

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