Tuesday 21 May 2024

Shades of Green

 The lovely little Green Carpet moth has been abundant here for almost a month and the current generation is still hatching. I set them up by day when brushing against Cow Parsley or walking through long grass and they come to the light at night by the dozen.

The result is a range of moths in every condition from fresh and exquisitely green to several weeks' old and battered and faded to the extent that some are almost ghostly white. These four below were all in the eggboxes this morning - one new, a second turned to the brownish colour which often replaces the green after a couple of weeks, and the two at the bottom showing how patterning fades as well when the colour goes.

Green is the colour most prone to fading in moths just as red cushions exposed to sunlight in a conservatory tend to lose their lustre first. The Emerald moths which appear later in the Summer are gloriously green for a week or two. Thereafter they look like unprinted paper napkins. Before we leave the subject, here is a fifth moth from this morning with the green turned to olive but not yet brown:

 Writing about colour makes me think of butterflies which are offering some glorious early visitors at the moment. I have been stalking the notoriously jittery Orange Tips for ages and cursing when they end their always cursory nectaring at a bloom just as I am ready to focus. Finally, yesterday, I found this one which lingered a little longer.

The orange is the male insect's great glory but both sexes share the beautiful mottling on the underside of the hindwing. Famously glamorous, meanwhile, is the Red Admiral although you see it less frequently at this time of the year than in the late Summer when the caterpillars of this overwintering generation - note the battered condition of my visitor below - hatch in all their fresh and unspoilt lustre.

The underwing is much less obvious and the insect snaps its wings shut if it wants to hide - swapping the defence of warning coloration for that of camouflage. Like other large butterflies, it also pivots to cast the smallest possible shadow if the sun is shining.

The lamp has meanwhile attracted some excellent moths including those below: an Iron Prominent, a female Pale Tussock on her own and then contrasted with our cat Taco which adopts exactly the same stretched forepaws resting stance. We have been storing seven Pale Tussock cocoons for the granddaughter and this may have emerged from one of them; because I am away a lot, I've had to leave the pupa box open and haven't recently checked how many have emerged.

Next we have a nicely russet Small Square-spot and then a Common (but rather fine) Marbled Carpet, notably larger than the Green Carpets featured above.

Finally an...um...er...I am going to have to spend time with the Micro Moths Bible.  Meanwhile I'll opt for Acentria ephemerella which is the closest match I can see on the Micro Current Arrivals page on the fabulous Upper Thames Moths blog site.

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