Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Stately moths (Part 3)

Update: In view of my faltering ID reputation, I took the precaution of sending a list and link to this blog to Tony Prichard, county moth recorder for Suffolk, who has very kindly and quickly replied with some corrections. I will insert these within the posts but essentially they are that the 'Rustic Shoulder-knots' below are in fact Nutmegs; the two Dingy Footmans (Footmen?) in the last post - Stately Home Moths (2) - are actually Orange Footmans/men and the micro which I ID-ed as Agriphila straminella is in fact Chrysoteuchia culmella. Very many thanks to Tony.

Here is a Stately Home Moth in situ to launch my final despatch from Cavendish Hall in Suffolk, the lovely Landmark Trust mansion where we lolled in cosy companionship to celebrate a friend's 90th birthday. It's a familiar but very beautiful moth, the Burnished Brass, whose scales both reflect and refract light to produce that metallic sheen.

Here it is close up on one of my Granny's immensely sturdy croquet hoops, made by a Leeds blacksmith and now shamefully in need of a coat of white paint.  Below, you can inspect it closer still and less blurred. One of my favourite UK moths. Looking back a post or two, you can see that it has also been on the wing in Oxfordshire, and that applies to most of my Suffolk catch. 

Here are the winners in terms of numbers, below, in order: Treble Lines, Marbled Minor (which could be the standard MM, the Tawny or the Rufous; you can only tell by examining the male's genitalia. The Moth Bible pronounces this practice to be 'easy' but it is not for me). Then comes the Setaceous Hebrew Character whose dark marking resembles the Hebrew letter Nun, and the Heart and Dart, a name whose origins are, I hope, obvious. The H&D attracted some of my more interesting moth correspondence many years ago when a New York soap shop called Heart and Dart came across this blog during an online search and was very chuffed to learn of the moth and its flourishing presence in the UK.

I feel the need to offer you something a little prettier now, so here is a delicious Silver-ground Carpet, first with a Common Wainscot on an eggbox and then on its original perch at the bottom of the trap bowl, whose black colouring plays pop with my camera. Actually, I must apologise that some of the photos are grainier than usual; I had to fall back on my iPad Mini when the camera went on strike and jammed.

Here is its close relative, too, a Common Carpet, which suffers even more severely from the gloom of the inner bowl:

Now it's time to meet some Cavendish micromoths, tiny splinters of lepidoptera which cause headaches when it comes to ID but can be bewitching under competent magnification (ie not mine). They are, in order: Crambus lathoniellus, Agriphila straminella (Update: no, it's Chrysoteuchia culmella - see top of post) , Scoparia pyralella and Hedya pruniana. Most micros have only Linnean names which tend to be as long as the moths are short, but a few, including Hedya p are common enough to have earned English ones too, in its case the Plum Tortrix.

For completeness, here are most of the other moths which came to see me over the three nights - much the biggest catch on the first which was cloudy and warm, far fewer on Saturday when the sky was clear and temperatures fell, and a decent pick-up on Sunday when the clouds returned though the temperature didn't get back to Friday night levels. I should add that there were several other species which I didn't photograph in all the confusion of interested spectators demanding moths on their fingers. These included a Bloodvein and a Snout, among other which I'm afraid I do not recall.

My thumb and a Bright-line Brown-eye, not be confused with the Brown-line Bright-eye which is a little rarer. Like me, the Bright-line Brown-eye enjoys tomatoes, or at least its caterpillars do. Adult moths are generally content with nectar
The curiously-shaped Pale Prominent; very good camouflage when hiding amid twigs and fallen leaves.
Straw Dot, coloured straw and with a dot. Under magnification, the dot contains a  smidgeon of that rarest colour among moths, blue.
I think that this is a Rustic Shoulder-knot but please correct me if I have blundered yet again. Update: I have; as per the top of the post, this a Nutmeg 
And I think that this is another one. Update: it is - another Nutmeg.
Large Yellow Underwing, a common but fine moth which flashes its orangey-yellow underwear when disturbed.
And another, snuggled up with another Scoparia pyralella micro.
And that's it, apart from another study of the Burnished Brass, left, this time not on a croquet hoop but the top of a ring-pull beer can in whose contents it showed interest - never forget that one of the traditional ways of catching moths before the advent of light traps was smearing rum and treacle on trees for the little creatures to get enjoyably stuck.

Thank you once again to our birthday friends - 29 species of macro moth and four micros - and to the Landmark Trust for a really excellent weekend.

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