Monday, 12 June 2017

Class of 2017

I have found myself with a new nursery of schoolroom of voracious caterpillars which hatched from the clutch of eggs laid by an unknown moth in the light-trap a fortnight ago. They hatched just before we left for three days in Suffolk and I crammed a variety of leaves and grasses into a box with them to munch on in my absence. It included cricket willow which is what they seem to prefer.

Above is one of them roaming round the box, a little close to some spidery fabric which suggests that other creatures may have infiltrated with my leaves. Not harmful ones, I hope. I am monitoring. I have no idea what the caterpillars are but hope to identify them as they get bigger. I have a record of most of the moths which overnighted at the time, so with luck that will narrow the field. Here are the eggs, below.

The moths meanwhile performed brilliantly yesterday, when we were due to join a work party at the local Community Allotments in the morning and then have lunch in the nearby village of Tackley with a group of friends. I had hoped to take a clutch of interesting moths on both occasions and the eggboxes obligingly served up two trios of hawk moths - Privet, Poplar and Elephant. There were children at both events and the moths went down very well. One small, budding entomologist solemnly told his Mum: "Martin is the best moth hunter in the world." One of the lunchtime Mums kindly took the two larger moths on her hand while I went to get Penny and myself drinks. She mused on the possibility of moths as 'living jewellery', not restrained but with the added attraction of being a temporary adornment, liable to vanish at any time, like sandcastles and pavement art.

One ace performer: Elephant Hawk

And another: Privet, the UK's largest native moth as discussed in my last pre-Suffolk post, Big Boy

The moths flew away unharmed from both occasions and, I think, left behind a number of potential converts to the hobby, plus the chance to explain how small the pernicious clothes moths are in proportion to the whole, wide and wonderful moth-y world.  Meanwhile here are some of the other visitors to Saturday night's trap. Last night, I gave them all a rest.

Puss moth, getting a bit frayed


A Flame Shoulder, showing its lovely maroon, in a huddle with a Spectacle and a Flame

I need to look these up

That pretty moth, the Coronet, nuzzling a Pale Tussock

A couple of Minors, the lower one a Least (I think) with another chap whose ID I'll hope to have shortly - familiar but not on the tip of my tongue

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