Thursday, 27 July 2017

Postman Poplar

One of the pleasures of running a moth trap is the chance which it gives to spread the word about this largely unseen part of UK wildlife. Newcomers to the subject are invariably astonished by the range, interest and colour of my small, nocturnal visitors. In turn, they pass on the news.

My latest victim has been our excellent postman Michael who has chatted to me on occasion about the eerie glow which he sees occasionally in the winter months, or the curious bowl-with-a-bulb which is often on the lawn on lighter mornings. This week, we finally had the chance to look at a few captures. The mail must get through on time, but Michael built in a few extra minutes to have a quick look.

I was very much hoping that the moths would oblige with something impressive and they came up trumps. Two fine-looking Poplar Hawks were examined by Michael and in turn examined him and his van. It was another small episode in the very interesting life of a postman about which I hope that he one day writes a book. There is seldom the time for a prolonged conversation but I have learned enough about his experiences - getting emergency aid for a haemophiliac badly cut in an accident at home, spotting an electrical fire in flats  at its early stages - to see how valuable these eyes and ears in our daily surroundings are, quite apart from the remarkable job of getting our post too and fro so quickly and efficiently.

The same applies to milkmen and women, a job I have always rather fancied because I like getting up early. Even in the limited realm of your own house or street, it is fascinating what you get to see when few if anyone else is around.  Including, of course, moths.

Keeping your eyes open for the unexpected at all times is good advice, as my final picture shows. In search of salad, I noticed this caterpillar on home-grown cauliflower florets in our fridge. It thus escaped adding a tiny tang to one of my signature dishes, cauliflower cheese. I am afraid that I do not know wat it is, but I will check out the Moth Bible and put 'cauliflower' and 'caterpillar' into Google.


Mike Jennings said...

Martin, how are you? I've been looking in on your posts on and off whilst my own Banished's Bugs was inactive. For various reasons the blog ground to a halt. But now I'm retired ( I hope) and the whole Banished clan has relocated to the far north. We are now in Maine and about to close on our new down sized place. So in celebration I have restarted or rather recreated the blog in it's new base. It is now
I hope to see you there.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi there and how nice to hear from you. I will haste over to your blog. I often think about it and the amazing wildlife you have over there (not to mention human life, especially politically...)

I potter along happily but am vaguely trying to think of new ways of doing the blog as the years go by and the subject matter remains largely the same, albeit always with surprises and new things.

Looking forward to reading you shortly

all warmest wishes


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin

Caterpillars can be tough as they can vary quite a bit, both generally and from instar to instar. Also, some quite different looking moths can have very similar looking caterpillars (Square-spot and Six-striped Rustics) and vice versa, very similar moths can have noticeably different larvae (Grey and Dark Daggers)
Due to plant it was found on though I think the Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae) would be a good starting place for you. has a similarish looking one from above about halfway through the pictures of larvae and maybe you can remember it from the side enough to confirm it.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi and many thanks for this advice. I will go compare, as they say in that TV ad.

All warm wishes