Friday, 25 May 2018

Pink - or green

This is a lovely time of year for the moth enthusiast. Every morning, the trap offers fresh beauty and excitement even if almost all the inhabitants of the eggboxes are species which I have seen before. The weather is less of a deterrent, too. Last night was warm but turned wet in the small hours. In spite of that, Mr and Mrs Robinson's rain-shield did its job perfectly and protected, among many others, my grandaughter's favourite moth.

This is the Elephant Hawk shown in my first composite picture (the excellent app called Layout is how I do those0. You can see why a little girl might like it. Like so many other grandparents, parents and other carers, we have fought a losing battle against fascination with pink - although her little brother approves of it too, but perhaps mostly because he faithfully copies his sister in all that she does.

But is it pink? Or is that exquisite limey-green the dominant colour? I would answer Yes to this question so far as the topwings are concerned - and not forgetting the white, black and grey as well which add powerfully to the overall effect. But underneath, pink wins hands down.

The Elephant Hawk is dear to me as the first moth I bred from caterpillars, striking creatures with 'eyes' and a long grey body like an elephant's trunk; hence the name. As I have recounted many times, my kind mentor John Armitage, natural history curator at Leeds City Museum when I was boy, told my brother an myself to look for the catties in August on the lower leaves of rosebay willowherb growing on the verges of Leeds ring road in Adel. We looked and there they were.

A useful tip he gave was to wait until late in the season when the mature caterpillar goes grey after spending its previous instars being green which makes it much harder to find, like runner beans.

Here are some other visitors to the trap last night:

From top left, clockwise: Red Twin-spot Carpet, Pale Tussock, White-spotted Pug, micro awaiting ID, Scorched Wing (excellent moth!), Pug awaiting ID, Checking, Green Tortrix


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin

I think your unknown Tortrix might be Phtheochroa rugosana. Your macro you're checking will turn out to be Light Brocade is my guess and I think (to be pedantic) you meant Green Oak Tortix rather than Green Tortrix.

Anonymous said...

and in answer to your, perhaps rhetorical question, I'd go with pink. While there is a large swathe of the other colour, the first thing that catches my eye in the trap is the bright flash of pink.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi there and MANY thanks on all counts. I will duly add and amend. Much appreciated!

All warm wishes