The moths in this part of the world had an exotic experience last night when some of Oxford's most venerable buildings were beautifully illuminated in an excellent event called the Night of Heritage Light. What they made of it, I am not sure as neither Penny nor I saw any about, but I laid on my own small show for them at home and managed to get a blurry picture of an unidentifiable species showing interest.
In the morning, the current army of Black Rustics, Lunar Underwings and the like was varied by the arrival of a couple of male Vapourers. This is a fascinating moth whose males fly mostly by day, when they are often mistaken from a distance for small brown butterflies such as the Brown Hairstreak, but whose females are non-flying, large-bodied breeding machines.
If you are a reasonably energetic sort of person, then I have no doubt that you would rather be a male Vapourer. But a couch-bound TV addict would probably find the life of the female preferable. She remains inert, emitting the occasional pheromone to attract a suitor (probably the reason for the species' name), and then lays a very large number of eggs in her immediate surroundings, which usually include the cocoon from which she hatched. You can read more about this curious lifestyle and see some excellent pictures of the moths on this website here.
Unusually, Vapourer eggs hatch in successive batches over a period of up to eight weeks, a very sensible way of avoiding too much competition for foodplants. The handsome caterpillars are brightly-coloured and multi-tufted. Occasionally they occur in such large numbers that they defoliate entire trees. Note in my last picture above, the exceptional antennae which are another advantage of being a male of the species.
For the rest, it was good to be visited by a tattered by the gallant Red Underwing shown above and the Rosy Rustic, Bright-line Brown-eye and Red-line Quaker below. My beach towel also takes a bow in today's pictures. I like having a colourful background.