Friday 14 October 2022

Points and specks

Five years ago at this time of the year I caused a very modest stir among Upper Thames moths enthusiasts by attracting a White Speck to my lamp. Today's arrival is a White Spot, somewhat similar but more common. They share a provenance as Autumn migrants blown here from the Continent. The White Speck made landfall in my garden rather than the Isles of Scilly or Cornwall, its usual landfalls on the rare occasions when it visits the UK, because of the force of Hurricane Ophelia.

Neither Speck nor Spot is a terribly exciting moth so far as size, colour or patterning goes - how superficial am I? - but the trap continues to provide colour as the season nears its end. In my last post, I showed a richly green female Red Green Carpet as an example. Now here is its male counterpart, above, distinguishable by the white markings.

My greatest pleasure this week, however, was the arrival of the teeny tiny scrap of colour above. Micro moths normally leave me unmoved but the sheer Lilliputianism of this one was beguiling. Its larger companion with its House of Lords ermine robe, is also a micro and very small - a Light Brown Apple moth or Epiphyas postvittana. They come in between seven and 12mm long and this one was about halfway on that scale. So you can see how titchy the smaller one is. Its name is grandiose for such a scrap: Caloptilia stigmatella, and its patterning is a miniature delight.

A sure sign of the end of the season is the appearance of the plain grey Autumnal, November and Winter moths and the next picture shows my first of those for 2022. They are too similar for me to tell apart. And finally we have an interesting example of moth behaviour - and waterproofing.

Here below is a Green-brindled Crescent form capuccino, a delicious moth whose camouflage worked well on the lichen of an old wall. The first picture was taken after a dry night at about 8.30am.  The rain morning brought rain, not heavy but lasting at least two hours. We were out for lunch but when we got back the moth was still there - below - rain shrugged off and the moth none the worse for it.

Sunday 9 October 2022

Indian Summer


Let's start with a blaze of late Autumn colour - a somewhat battered but impressively hardy Small Copper was feasting on this marigold at the allotments yesterday, enjoying the sun of our Indian Summer. Nearby, the old well provided evidence for why we still have a hosepipe ban here in spite of recent rain. Th groundwater has a long way to go to catch up.

One of my top moths has meanwhile made its debut for 2022, the beautiful Merveille du Jour which despite its name flies only by night. It is usually the last real excitement of the moth enthusiast's year in the UK although its seasonal companions are worthy enough too.

Here are some of them: a Red-green Carpet (named for its lovely colouring and pattern; its larvae are not interested in carpets or Cashmere sweaters); the capuccino form of the Green-brindled Crescent; a Sallow in the sweetcorn; a vivid Barred Sallow and two pictures of a Large Ranculus, so-named because its caterpillars munch buttercups. We have an ample supply of those and their runners spread them like fun.

These have all been of great interest to the grandchildren who are now combining their enjoyment of moths with malacology or the study of snails.

As well as these smaller creatures, we are currently enjoying the presence in the garden of a young stag which is almost tame. In the long run we will have to keep him out but at the moment there's nothing much for him to devour - touch wood. And like us, he sensibly supports membership of the EU which our home and garden maintains.