Friday, 5 May 2017


A well-named moth was crouching on the metal bulbholder of the trap this morning: the Grey Dagger, above, with its sharp litlle poignard emblazoned on its wings. The moth is a familiar sight at this time of the year and for some months to come. This is it's debut for me in 2017.

Having named it so confidently, I have to add the customary rider that it could also be a Dark Dagger. The two related species are so similar that their genitalia, which clasp together when mating, have to be studied closely to distinguish between them.  The moth Bible describes the male Grey Dagger male's clasper has having two teeth formed like a pincer for coupling, while the Dark Dagger has three.  I haven't the time, skill or dispassion to investigate, I am afraid, and both moths are rated as 'common' (presumably by experts with stouter hearts, as the poor moth has to be anaesthetised, frozen or killed to do the job reliably).

Away from such painful subjects, here is an unmistakeable Powdered Quaker from behind and the side; a delicately-coloured and patterned moth and also quite a decent size.

Finally, the number of butterflies on the wing has been encouraging over the past month. Here is a female Holly Blue to add to the Brimstone, Peacock, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood which I have already seen. The sooty wingtips mark her out as a female. In spite of their name, Holly Blues seem very partial to ivy. Perhaps they have heard the carol.

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