|Update: the expert and kindly guru of Upper Thames Moths, Dave Wilton, identifies this as a Dusky Carpet, a moth only once recorded in the UK, a specimen caught at Tenby in South Wales which is now in the Museum of Natural History in Kensington|
|A Yellow-tail - a species notoriously shy about showing its eponymous feature. This one had little choice.|
The answer was to have my swim a little earlier. I managed to do this and even to build in time to rescue most of the apparent victims. The moths looked dead, apart from one or two which were struggling feebly, but once you scooped them out and decanted them on to the stone, decking or even nearby tree-trunks, they recovered speedily. Here are some examples:
My most curious observations, however, were of a half-dozen or so moths which were perched at least an inch underwater, clinging to the side of the pool, thoroughly alive and apparently contented with their surroundings. When I eased them off and put them down in the sunshine, they too recovered. There is plenty on the web about moths and other insects' ability to spend time underwater, including a piece on a Hawaiian moth which seems happy in both elements. There is also the example of dragonflies, whose first three stages of life are spent in water. But I hope to read more, not only about the breathing issue but also about the waterproof-ness or otherwise of moths' wings - note the bubbles of air clinging to the ones below. In butterflies, which are generally larger and more delicately made, these would seem the main vulnerability of a dip, but there seems reason to believe that the complex structure of scales and membranes is water-resistant, provided that the insect does not panic and thrash around.