Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Hats off to the Sahara

Here's a first. I've never started a post with a picture of the desert before. But the Sahara plus Hurricane Ophelia and now Storm Brian (sounds a bit weedy by comparison, but it's done its bit)  have been sending some interesting moths to the UK.  They don't fly, or at least hardly. They get scooped up and hurtled north. So it's largely a matter of simply staying aloft while the weather does the motoring.

The latest shivering arrival (presumably, although adult moths are less sensitive to the cold than their caterpillars and, in particular, those caterpillars' foodplants) is this Scarce Bordered Straw which also rejoices in the alternative name of the Old World Bollworm. If that suggests to you an American connection and a fondness for crops, you are right. The SBS can be a serious pest. However, it will do no damage here and I have never seen one before. So, Hooray!

A more familiar immigrant from the hotlands is the Vestal. They are coming regularly now, when the nights are not too wet and cold - they have been both of late, until it warmed up and dried up yesterday evening. Another good moth in the background is also around in numbers: the Large Wainscot.

I'm particularly pleased with my last moth, too: a very unusual-looking Blair's Shoulder-knot. Many of these are also immigrants albeit only from the Continent, but they have also settled here and breed regularly. Their normal background colour is grey, with occasional pinkish streaks and all those dots and dashes, but this one has these extremely distinctive white shoulders.  An ermine collar. Is that an omen for the political future of our former Prime Minister, Tony Blair?

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