Saturday, 15 July 2017

Cluck, cluck, cluck

Something appeals to me about the entomological term 'ovipositor'. Cumbersome it may be, but it does its work as a word by describing its function exactly: a device for positioning eggs, a process over which most moths take impressive care.

There are a very few species which fecklessly lay eggs as they wander about, sometimes even in flight as I recall, but most are tuned expertly in to the foodplants which their caterpillars will require. Unlike the impression given in that excellent book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, many species are very faddy about what they eat, just like several human offspring of my acquaintance.

The Leopard moth in today's first two pictures is, I am pretty sure, showing off her ovipositor and in this belief, I have confined her for a spell in a Tupperware box to see if she will lay me some eggs. Before doing this, I checked on the species' foodplants and found that Leopards are an exception which proves the rule I have outlined above. Like my small grandson, they will apparently eat pretty much anything from woody plants - willow, hawthorn, beech, you name it.

We currently have all of the above in abundance, albeit on limited offer, since last week's rain brought down an oak branch which took with it an 11,000 volt overhead cable and blacked out the immediate area. The electricity people were promptly on the scene and much sawing took place (after warnings to keep well clear of the abundant electricity until everything was formally switched off). The result is the woofpile above, which provided a nice perch for the moth trap on the debut of my new mercury vapour bulb.

Other visitors included the fine Swallow Prominent above, the Muslin Footman and Gold Triangle micro (Hypsopygia costalis) below and the even lovelier micro Anania coronata below that.

Some welcome new macros for the 2017 Summer too: a Knot Grass, a Lunar-spotted Pinion from the side and from above (this is a moth which usually hugs its wings close when at rest, but I gave it a tickle),  and a Dusky Sallow. nice name for a nicely-patterned and coloured moth.

Finally, a carpet of some kind and a rather battered pale moth beside a Common Rustic. They join my yet-to-be-ID-ed list.

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