Sunday, 6 August 2017


Only yesterday, Alex in Comments suggested that I bridge the potentially quiet gap between late Summer and early Autumn moths by hatching and breeding caterpillars from eggs. On cue, look what one of my visitors left on the rim of the bulb-holder last night.

Who the mother is remains to be seen, provided that the eggs bring forth tiny caterpillars which I can successfully nurture. But I wonder if she might be the very attractive Orange Swift, below, which was sleeping on one of the eggboxes inside the trap.

There was very little orange about her but plenty of soft maroon and purple, so much so that I thought initially that she might be something new and unusual. Like the doughty women in Bamforth's seaside postcards, she is very much larger than her male counterpart and altogether more impressive.

Elsewhere, I found the year's first Copper or Svensson's Copper Underwing, above, a moth famed for his habit of scuttling around when disturbed but refusing to show its eponymous underwings and seldom inclined to fly off rather than try to hide. This was not the case with a Red Underwing which was resting near the trap and panicked as soon as I padded up in my dressing gown and slippers. I just managed to snap it in the grass, with a glimpse of its flashy nightie included.

On the wall nearby was one of that lovely species, the Canary-shouldered Thorn, whose vivid yellow back attracted great enthusiasm from a young guest staying with us, over from Talinn in Estonia with hyer Mum and younger brother. Noting the moth's resemblance to a lion in both furriness and colouring, she christened it Leonie and has kept it overnight in a large, leaf-filled box, along with the eggs.

She and her brother were interested in the largest arrival, the Poplar Hawk in the picture above, but not as fond of it as its smaller, brighter relative. Meanwhile, the eggboxes furnished a modest but varied range of other moths to show the kids, some of them shown below:

A Lime-speck Pug
A very sleepy Coronet
A Red Twin-spot Carpet
and a Common one
A Common or Lesser Common Rustic
And that familiar half-and-half micro which I will identify when I take the tea up to Penny and have access to the Micro-moth Bible which is currently at my bedside. Update: Alex in Comments kindly beat me to it, nailing this as the Garden Rose Tortrix, Acleris variegana. Many thanks.


AlexW said...

Could the micromoth be Acleris variegana (straight from your moth records page)? Also, what will you do with the caterpillars when they reach adulthood? Will you be breeding a second captive generation?

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi Alex - absolutely right! Many thanks. It's also known as the Garden Rose Tortrix, and we have a nice crop of roses in the garden just now. Regarding the catties, I don't breed them that often but if I do, I tend to keep them until I know what they are going to be and then release them. The exception was a marvellous family of Emperor Moths about whom I've written quite a lot - they hatched over a four year period and gave me great fun doing the 'assembling' when a captive female brings males - three or four in my case, within half-an-hour.

All v best again


AlexW said...

How will you release a bunch of moths if they emerge in the wrong season, though?
Also, did you verify it as the rose tortrix with your book and other sources? I don't want to be the cause of a hasty misidentification, as I am no lepidopterist and that was just a random appearance-based guess.

More cheers

Martin Wainwright said...

hi there - i think that their release will fit into the natural cycle, following the timing of the mother moth laying them on the trap. and yes, never far, i checked the Acleris with the micro-moth Bible

all warmest


AlexW said...

I think bugguide said somewhere that indoor leps tend to have incorrect timing, and there was another blogger who got a swallowtail to emerge in winter. Will you raise them outside just to be safe?

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi again and many apologies for the delay. I'm using our greenhouse which is a bit of both - indoors and out. The trouble with leaving them outside is that at my age, I might forget about them. All seems well so far. All warmest M