Monday 29 August 2016

Blushing sweetly

Another delicately beautiful moth came to call last night, following yesterday's lovely white Peacock. This one is the Maiden's Blush, a sweet name which illustrates another aspect of the age-old complications in relationships between men and women.

The Large Yellow Underwing could be a Lawrentian man, showing interest...

The White Peacock bird in D H Lawrence's novel, which I mentioned in yesterday's post, is used by a discontented character as a simile for one of the novel's leading women characters whom he sees as vain and empty-headed, a showy bird-brain.  A maiden's blush stands as a metaphor for a different sort of femininity, modest, inexperienced and winning general approval. From men at least.

This one, with its very subtle shade of blush on the lower forewing, was accompanied by a third delicate white moth which I am pretty sure is a Cream Wave. There are, however, a number of waves which - as always with UK moths - can be frustratingly similar. So I will do some double-checking after breakfast.

Finally, to make a trio of lovelies such as that which confronted Paris in Greek myth, here is a battered but still very appealing Bordered Beauty, slumbering on the moth trap's cowl with the lamp behind. Altogether, a very rewarding spell this morning with the eggboxes.

Sunday 28 August 2016

Pea or paw?

A new moth for me this morning, one of a steady flow this year which is my third summer of trapping the insects in Oxfordshire. This is a Peacock - or possibly the very similar Sharp-angled Peacock - and a very delicate moth it is too.

The name is a bit of an exaggeration if you think of a conventional Peacock bird but perhaps the christener had the famous White Peacock variety in mind.  The White Peacock is also the name of D H Lawrence's first novel, so this is a moth with claims to wider distinction and interest beyond its value to me as a novelty.

My headline is based on the more mundane fact that its most prominent marking resembles a dog's paw. Pawcock doesn't have quite the same lilt to it as a name, sadly, so Peacock I am sure it will remain. There is, incidentally, a marvellous moth found on the continent called the Great Peacock. As you can see from the photo below - many thanks to Wikipedia - it richly deserves the name.

Also new to me was this pose by a Chinese Character moth, a curious little species whose normal resting position is unique. To be banal again, it resembles a bird poo. In my picture below, you can see the delicate threads of the supposed Chinese character on both wings at once, in the grey moustache-shaped area, something I have never previously seen.

Saturday 27 August 2016

Riches once more

After a slowish period in terms of new arrivals for the year, the moth trap picked up last night in stylish fashion; newcomers, beautiful guests and very large numbers of moths overall, plus a rich variety of beetles, flies and other insects.

My favourite is the Gold Spot or Lempke's Gold Spot, a very similar species, which also intrigued my granddaughter on whose finger it is perching in my first picture. These 'metallic' moths are a wonderful tribute to the intricacies of wing scales on moths; the effect of the tiny reflecting and refracting plates, fixed like tiles on a roof, simply glows.

I was also very pleased to have an example of the super-stylish Sycamore moth shown in my third picture. Its palette is modest and not at all in the colourful part of the spectrum. But there is something about the clean lines and well-defined pattern which make it extremely appealing.

There is something Autumnal about the arrival of the Sallow family of moths, but we still have plenty of Summer left to be enjoyed by early-comers such as the two Centre-barred Sallows shown above. Meanwhile it's good to see Burnished Brasses of both forms - aurea top with an equally greenish shield bug and juncta bottom - below.

Top marks too for the lovely Chinese Character moth whose eponymous piece of 'Chinese lettering' shows up nicely on this photo:

Two slightly different Marbles Beauties next, one of them under investigation from one of many different varieties of Shield Bug which came along to suss out the eggboxes. 

And next a pair of different Carpet moths, a family whose delicate colouring is always a treat to find in the trap.  The top one is  a Red Carpet  Update: no, as per my Commentor, it's the very similar Flame Carpet and the second one a Garden Carpet, according to my best estimation.

Now to a couple of Thorns, August or September I've not got to time to say precisely but will have a better stab shortly, aided by the recent excellent guide which I borrowed from Upper Thames Moths.

And so to the Miscellanea, which I will identify by captions 'cos I've got to be off shortly to set the trap for whatever comes visiting tonight.

Flounced Rustic, I think

A Large Yellow Underwing guards one of those naughty American ladybirds with all its spots

An absolutely minute but rather beautiful micro whose identity I will try to establish before the end of the month. Sorry for bad focus. Update, both my Commentor and Peter Hall on the Upper Thames Moths blog kindly point out that this is a leafhopper, not a micro-moth. Whoops.

A Green Shield Bug (as opposed to stamp) in pole position on the bulbholder. Update: No, it's a Hawthorn Shield Bug - thanks to my Commentor again.

A nice little assortment: Mother of Pearl, Large Yellow Underwing and Tawny Speckled Pug

Our old and very regular friend the Poplar Hawk in a state of alarm (at my granddaughter's presence)

Another Flounced Rustic? Plus a Brimstone, one of the commenest moths around just now.

Swallow Prominent

Garden Rose Tortrix

Rosy Rustic

This is a puzzle. A Ringed China-mark maybe? Sorry for poor quality pic.

And a Holly Blue butterfly in the garden to end up with. Has anyone ever seen one of these open its lovely top wings? I haven't.

Thursday 25 August 2016

Sad scrap

The handsome Vanessid butterflies have been around in the garden for a while, Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells in particular, noticeably more commanding in their powerful flight than the 'cabbage' Whites and Meadow Browns which flutter around. They are fewer as yet than in previous years and I have not yet definitely seen a Peacock, usually the most common of them. Mind you, a butterfly's life is always a hard one as the scad scrap of Small Tortoiseshell on our car boot sill shows, above.

In the moth trap, meanwhile, I had an unusual infestation on Monday night, several thousand of these midget beetles. I had place it on an outdoors table close to an unruly hawthorn hedge. The sheer profligacy of Nature still surprises me although you seldom get anywhere near these sorts of numbers with moths.

I wonder if these are their parents - a small type of beetly creature which was also present in the dozens.  I don't think so, judging by body shape, but beetles and their kind are an unknown, if fascinating, world to me. Update: many thanks to my Commentor for revealing that the bigger creatures are Pentatoma rufipes, Forest or Red-legged Shield Bugs. The little beetles are probably just that, little beetles of a type unknown. There was also a lone grasshopper in the eggboxes, but it hopped off.

An Angle Shades' decision to slumber on the transparent trap cowl gave me the chance to get an unusual underwing, showing a tubby body in comparison to the sleek outline of its folded wings. Turning the cowl over, I took the more customary photo of the same moth below.

Otherwise the lovely warm weather has yet to bring in anything specially notable but below are a Poplar Kitten from one of my favourite tribes, an alarmed Poplar Hawk unusually showing its warning blotches of red and a Common or Lesser Common Rustic with a couple more of the little people. 

Monday 22 August 2016

Feeling blue

Blue has become a synonym for downbeat days but that's definitely not the case for me. It's always been my favourite colour, so today was a blue one in the best sense.

Firstly, our Morning Glories are coming into flower, perfect blue until lunchtime and then gradually developing the violet tinge and purple stripe as the afternoon goes on. And secondly, I had a gentle butterfly stroll along the edge of a neighbouring field and at last found a thoroughly co-operative Common Blue.

I collated four different pictures on Instagram - see top of the post - and here are some more of the butterfly, just above. What a lovely creature both on top and underneath. When they are flitting about they are, to coin a very hackneyed but accurate phrase, like little jewels.

Otherwise it has been an off spell for the moth trap thanks to wind and rain, and not a very happy one for our local wild life in general.  Pottering through a local spinney, I cam across this sad little dead shrew. And yet another bird strike on our upstairs windows claimed the life of this thrush.