Sunday 12 May 2024

Familiar Moth, Unfamiliar Angle

You may well wonder what this visitor to the trap is, even those of you with experience of UK moths. It's not uncommon and I've often featured it here, but never in the position shown above. It always appears in the crouch shown in the two pictures below, which has led me (and others) to nickname it the Bird-poo Moth.


Yes, it's the Chinese Character moth, a beautifully delicate little creature which showed its full glories when I gave it a little tickle and it scuttled away but crucially without taking off. It was constantly on the go which made focussing pretty trick, but I hope that these pics give a reasonable idea. The Chinese Character name is derived from the silvery-white squiggle on the beige oval which looks like one of those patterns which baristas make in the foam on capuccinos or flat white coffees.

I always enjoy the peculiarities of digital cameras and especially the way that they pick up and enhance light wherever they can find it. That accounts for the last, distinctly odd photograph in this series. The moth does not have that blue colouring, at least not to the human eye, but it's interesting how the camera highlights it.

The species' caterpillars feed on hawthorn and blackthorn, both in plentiful supply here, and produce two broods a year, one at the beginning of the Summer and the other at the end. This little chap will have pupated in October before patiently waiting out the winter in a cocoon.

It was a night for delicate, pale moths when the Chinese Character came - last Thursday at the start of the current warm spell. Its companions included these delights: a Seraphim, a Silver-ground Carpet and a Small Magpie, the latter a micro-moth although it is considerably bigger than the macro Chinese Character. Note the Brindled Beauty in the background.

The happy presence of a spider's web in the eggboxes allows me to show you the underwing of another pretty black-and-white moth, the very familiar White Ermine which can be disturbed during Spring cleaning from the folds of curtains and other overwintering nooks. Here's a trio of pictures including that one, followed by another White Ermine snoozing on a wall near the trap.

Here some more trio-pics, first of an Oraneg Footman, again including an underside thanks to its position on the transparent, if murky, trap cowl:

Then a Scallopped Hazel, a regular at this time of the year:

And lastly three other arrivals: a Flame, a micro which I will ID soon and a smart Common Rustic. 

Seventy miles West of here, my granddaughter has been doing well too. Here's a recent selection from her Actinic trap: from the top left: Brindled Beauty, Shuttle-shape Dart, worn Seraphim, Hebrew Character, Caddis Fly, Waved Umber, the lovely Clouded Silver which hasn't reached here yet, Yellow-barred Brindle and a nice Cinnabar.

Finally, away from the moths, we had a pleasant visit from this slowworm with its excellently flickering shown as shown in the short clip below:

We gave it a hand off the barren stonework of our patio and away it slithered into the cool shade of some scrub.

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