Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Touch of the vapours

The Vapourer is a satisfactory moth with a distinct appearance which makes it easy to identify - although there is also a rarer Scarce Vapourer. Fortunately, the markings are sufficiently different for even me to tell them apart. Beware its hairy caterpillar; I still haven't tracked down the reason for the name 'vapourer', but the bumpy rash caused to many by the caterpillar's spiky hair is unpleasant and long-lasting. I had a dear uncle who was a dermatologist and these things fascinated him. He was very pleased that one of his children was a butterfly and moth enthusiast, only too pleased to breed caterpillars for medical research.

A little unusually, it has a long and leisurely flying season, especially in the Southern UK where it is on the wing from July all the way through to the end of October. I should be more specific and say that this applies only to the males; the female is wingless, a cruel fate to be part of a flying order of animals and yet denied that ability which so many humans, very much including myself, much envy. 

Male Vapourers also fly by day as well as night and, according to the Moth Bible, are sometimes a cause of mis-identification and disappointment among butterfly-hunters looking for Brown Hairstreaks. Both fly high and jerkily - much like my third moth today, a Scarlet Tiger. As past posts have described, this is a moth which I have almost exclusively come across during the daytime in sunny weather. However, last week this one came and spent the night in the trap.

What is this, apparently reading the eggbox's advertisements. I think a Dark Marbled Carpet.  And I am rather assuming that this tiny visitor below is one of the Pugs. But which?  I will ask the experts on the Upper Thames Moths blog, also sending them the second picture which shows the moth scurrying for cover with its wings held over its back vertically, in the manner of a butterfly. 

Finally, here is one of the flimsy, delicate 'Laura Ashley' moths: a Lesser Cream Wave, or rather two of them, the first one hiding from a Small Magpie micro.

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