Sunday, 8 October 2017

Petticoat hunt

I always get a kick out of a big moth choosing to spend the night in the moth trap. At this time of year, the likeliest bet is a Red Underwing such as this one; not merely large but bright and beautiful. I've given the first picture an appropriately colourful background in the form of my morning tea in a mug from the Ashmolean, showing Ucello's lovely painting The Hunt in the Forest.

Getting the Red Underwing to share its attractions isn't easy, however. You need patience to get a photograph of the vivid scarlet petticoat which gives the species its name. The moths are very reluctant to show their underwear off for any length of time; they prefer to flash it briefly as a warning to a predator. Here are my best attempts during a long sesh this morning until the sleepy creature finally achieved lift-off and soared away to the eaves of our house and a quieter roost.

The Red Underwing isn't alone in this shyness about its underwings. The Black Rustic, which is one of the commonest moths in the trap at the moment, is also very skilful at hiding its shining white pair which form such a vivid contrast to the dark forewings. Indeed, I had forgotten about this altogether until this morning a Black Rustic fell out of an eggbox and in its confusion, left a triangle of its slip showing.

For the rest, the 60 or so moths (on a very cold and quite windy night) included this vividly russet Chestnut (I think) - Update: actually, on reflection I think that the three markings on either side of the folded wings mean that it is a Beaded Chestnut - and what I am fairly sure is another form of the Common Marbled Carpet - quite different from yesterday's 'copper blotch' version.

No comments: