Saturday, 9 June 2018


After five years here on the edge of Oxford, I have got used to the abundance of hawk moths at this time of the year. But nine on one hand - and there was a tenth which did not stay to be photographed - is a record. As Steve Trigg commented on the Upper Thames Moths blog, I will be able to regale the grandchildren about how I once held nine Elephants with one hand. Alas, they have already learned not to accept everything Grandpa tells them as gospel.

Here's the shy one before making its escape, along with an interesting coincidence: the arrival in the same night of that stylish moth the Angle Shades and its superficially less glamorous relative the Small Angle Shades. Here they are again together, below, with the Angle Shades warming up for take-off.

The Small Angle Shades has a place in my heart because it is one of the few moths sporting a bit of blue, very discreet but there, just above the top pale marking on each wing. Both moths are common and reasonably often found by day. The Angle Shades features prominently among What's This queries which I get via Twitter etc. One other thing: its caterpillars have a practical habit of using soft or crumbly mortar to house their cocoons; another human-friendly moth, like the Small Dusty Wave which I mentioned the other day a propos its liking for window boxes. 

I took my next picture, above, to show yet another form of that immensely varied moth, the Marbled Minor, snuggled up next to a furry male Pale Tussock. Overall, the trap is very busy and here below are some of the other arrivals over the last two days:

From top left, clockwise: Clouded Silver, Flame, Peppered and Pebble prominent go to work on an egg, Coronet

Ditto: Dark Arches, White Ermine and Setaceous Hebrew Character, whoops repeat of earlier picture, Sycamore, I think

A varied immigrant which also breeds here and is often seen flying by day, nectaring at plants: three Silver Ys

Clockwise again: Small Magpie micro, mmm not sure but suspect a big micro, Clouded Border, Snout
There was also a Beautiful Hook-tip, a very nice moth, but it flew away.

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