Saturday, 26 June 2021
Thursday, 24 June 2021
The heady effect of pheromones from female moths on males has been discussed here from time to time, especially during my five years of breeding Emperor moths from one magnificent Empress which called in May 2014. This week I had the enjoyable experience of seeing the effects of the invisible trail of scent on one of the many Scarlet Tigers which are making the days brighter hereabouts.
The moth was flying very erratically over our vegetable patch and eventually nose-dived into a large clump of marguerites. I thought that it would settle but instead it clambered around in a very determined fashion. Peering closer into the tangle of stems, I saw why: a female Scarlet Tiger was positioned seductively on a leaf of the bindweed which was making the maze of foliage even more tangly.
They got together as per my first two photographs, so the chances of another good Scarlet Tiger season next year have been given a boost. This was at about 4.30pm That evening, I went out at 9pm to light the trap and they were still there. I gently disentangled the bindweed to get my third photo.
Sunday, 20 June 2021
A tremendous and reliable pleasure at this time of the year is the Scarlet Tiger, a day-flying moth whose colours match the most dazzling of butterflies. The red underwings are terrific, of course, but the forewing has a greeny-blue, slightly oily-looking sheen which makes for a memorable combination.
I found the one above in our local churchyard when I saw something brighter than a leaf float erratically down from a big tree. Having landed, it showed no inclination to love, even when I came so close that my iPhone touched it. I think it either got damp or just been discombobulated by our current lingering rain. Here it is again below, in the context of the wider world.
A neighbour found a very interesting one last week, a female whose wings had only partially unfurled so that she was unable to fly but crept up to a perch first on a chair and later on the spout of a watering can. He showed me a couple of pictures and I was startled to see that in the second, below, a male Tiger had come a-courting. That urge is absolutely overwhelming among moths as we've seen in previous posts, notably about my Emperor-hatching spree some years ago when instantly males locked on to the pheromones broadcast by even very newly-hatched females.
Monday, 14 June 2021
I am afraid that the star of today's show came to a sad end due to his over-hasty departure from the trap. Like a supercharged version of Gerard de Nerval's lobster, which the writer used to take for walks on the Champs Elysée, explaining to passers-by that he liked it 'because it doesn't bark and it knows the secrets of the sea', this Lobster moth shot off before I could stop him. I said him, because in moths, fancy antennae almost always denote a male.
He spiralled up into the sunlight and had almost reached the cover of our large oak when, zooooom! one of our robins whizzed down and that, alas, was that. I take what precautions I can over this sort of thing happening, but the Lobster moth is a common species and I am sure that a great many keep the bird and bat population up to the mark in the same way.
The moth's name comes from its remarkably crustacean-looking caterpillar - pic, left, from the Moth Bible. But the adult also has the grey of a lobster uncooked, albeit rather a hairy one. Altogether, an excellent moth.
From the Large to the Little: here is a pristine Lime-speck Pug, one of the most attractive of that rather grey family of very small macro moths. And then here is a smart micro-moth, below, Crambus lathoniellus, I am pretty sure.
|An Elephant Hawk, a battered Common Swift, a Cinnabar and a Heart and Club|
|A couple of Burnished Brasses, form tutti with the metallic areas joined by that slender link|
|Orange Footman, one-eyed Bright-eye, Brown-line, Willow Beauty and Silver-ground Carpet|
|Another Silver-ground Carpet, a Light Brown Apple Moth micro (Epiphyas postvittana), one of the many varieties of Common Marbled Carpet and the pretty micro Parapoynx stratiotata, aka the Ringed China-mark.|
|I can never resist photographing the Brimstone Moth|
|And finally, for the moths, here are another Common Marbled Carpet, a Heart and Dart and two Dark Marbled Carpets, I think. Please correct me if I'm adrift.|
Saturday, 12 June 2021
The Hop Dog, as the Pale Tussock used to be known in the great days of hopping, when most of East London decamped to Kent to help with the harvest and ensure the nation's beer supplies, is always welcome here. We don't have hops, which it especially favours, but its caterpillars are commendably catholic in their tastes (like our two grandsons but definitely not our granddaughter).
I was interested this year to get two males on the same night with contrasting shades of grey. Here they are closer-up:
Clockwise from top left: Sandy Carpet, Clouded Silver, Dot Moth Update: sorry, sloppy me. It's a Straw Dot. Many thanks to Edward in Comments) and Small Magpie