Sunday, 16 June 2013

More Magical Moths

As promised yesterday, here is last night's moth count. We put the box in a different part of the garden up near the pond to see if that would change the moths that we caught and (bar two- the Treble Lines and a Cinnabar whose photo came out blurry so I haven't included it here) they were completely different. 

Previously the box was on the patio which is closer to the lake and a stand of trees including birch, alder and I think poplar, which might explain the poplar hawk moth. Near the pond is bamboo, cranesfoot, maple, an ancient Oak and the open and over grown vineyard which is full of nettles, ragwort and brambles. 

Of course, we need to test the experiment properly by running the moth box in both places again to see whether it really made a difference or if it was just fluke, and I plan to do that this week. 

Such is my dedication, I was up and out of bed at 4.40 this morning to check the moth box.

I'll just say that again.

FOUR FORTY AM.

Teddy, who doesn't usually get out of bed until at least 9am, looked at me in astonishment when I came downstairs as if I was an apparition. I'm not sure apparitions wear Cath Kidston dressing gowns but never mind. He declined to follow me outside although Dougal was keen. I thought better of it as we've already explained to them that the "Moth Eating Club" isn't going to happen.


I trudged up the garden (avoiding the copious amount of black slugs that were slimeing their way stickily across the lawn) in my nighty and new wellies, drawn like a moth myself to the blue light glimmering at the top of the garden. This time there were 8 different species in the box of varying sizes and colours.

I've got ID's for all of  them bar one, so if anyone knows what it is I'd be very grateful for an ID.

 May highflyer (likes damp places and alder)


No ID for this one?


Treble Lines (lives just below the surface and eats the roots of herbaceous plants like plantain)


Pebble prominent (likes willow and alder)


Silver-ground carpet (likes goose grass/ cleavers)



The Snout (likes nettles)



The last moth (or rather 6 moths as they were all the same) was this beautiful White Ermine....



.....who taught me An Important Moth Lesson.

After taking advice from Jon at ALS, I used a pencil to remove them from the box and put them carefully into a jam jar lid to take the photos before flicking them firmly into some safe plants for the day (otherwise they stick to whatever they are on and go to sleep - it isn't safe to handle them with your hands because you can damage them).

I duly enticed the White Ermines onto the pen, but when I tried to ease them into the jam jar lid to take some photos to my horror one by one this happened....

Aghh! I'm dead.

Look what you've done! You've killed me!


Yup. I am absolutely dead. 
See? No moving.
No moving AT ALL.
I am Definitely Dead.


Ha ha! Fooled you! 
Miraculous recovery!


Yup.

White ermines, in common with many moths, will play a very convincing dead when they feel threatened. BTW- I hope you are all suitably impressed with the above photo. Somewhat of an improvement from the first set of moth pics. I particularly love the tiny sharp lines on the antennae.

After I'd put all the white ermines in the bush (ignoring the deadness of each one who fell off the pen and into the jam jar lid and lay absolutely still on their sides with their legs in the air), I went back to bed and fell asleep until 8am, which is a far more civilised time to get up.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, M completed his 136 mile bike ride with Tall Paul in just under twelve hours, and although he fell asleep in the middle of Game of Thrones (nearly spilling his celebration fizz I might add) he did have enough energy left over to go out and buy a Chinese when he got home. Top marks husband!

CT x

20 comments:

  1. Great images of the moths especially the last one. Hope you manage more of a lie in tomorrow, no wonder Teddy wasn't interested! They say 5am is a the best time to photograph flowers in the garden. I have only tried it once!
    Sarah x

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    1. Yes it's not my normal getting up time I must say, although once up I did rather enjoy it. No one else was about, except for all the wildlife... Ted was asleep again by the time I came back to the house! :-)

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  2. I am truly impressed by that last shot...
    Catching up again - loved the photos of the green woodpecker too... I'd really like to see one of those!

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    1. Thanks. I'm pretty chuffed with it :-)

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  3. That last one is fabulous. Such dedication getting up in the night!

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    1. I think it's more to do with excitement...! V pleased with the last photo too :-)

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  4. Beautiful photos of the moths. I love the 'playing dead' White Ermine - what a strategy for survival. I imagine it will be fascinating to move the box around and collect different moths from different habitats. And I wish I could get up that early, it's a lovely time of day in June (but I just can't manage it).

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    1. I'd not seen white ermines till I found them in the box and it was a real shock when they all fell over and played dead like that. Clever old things. It was lovely to be up that early...and even lovelier to be able to go back to bed again! CT x

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  5. Great stuff CT, I think your garden is going to be terrific for moths judging by your catches so far :-) Being further north I have to get up even earlier at this time of year (4am this morning!) as though a Skinner trap will catch as many as a Robinson it isn't as good at retaining the moths once dawn breaks.

    PS. I'm glad you've managed to sort your camera out too :-)

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    1. Thanks David :-)
      I'm not sure I'll manage such early starts next time but M is an early riser so I'll see if he can close the trap for me then I can examine the contents at a more civilised hour :-)

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  6. Lovely to see all the moths you are trapping - what a great start :) The White Ermines are such beautiful moths!

    You are very dedicated getting up at 4.00 a.m.!!! :) Being a "night owl" I rely on husband to close trap when he gets up at 7.00 a.m. and then I sort them later! Although I see from David's comment above that the Skinner traps aren't so good at retaining moths - that probably explains some of my low catches :)!!!

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    1. I lost a few even at 4.40 RR so I reckon getting husbands to close traps when they get up is probably just as good :-)
      Hoping for some warmer weather this week- it'll be interesting to see if it changes the catch.

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  7. You are doing well CT, It certainly seems like you have great habitat nearby which should bring lots of goodies in. The Ermine Moth is a beauty and always reminds me of a king in his cloak ;-) Lovely photos especially the last one!

    A couple of years ago I was very tempted to buy a trap but decided against it as I'm not an early morning person (4.40am, oh my!!) but also because I got to thinking about the fact that moths are here for only a short time and have an important job to do and I was worried about disrupting that, probably me being silly and I expect there is probably evidence to show that's not the case at all though. It is definitely interesting to see what the traps bring in and to get a glimpse of creatures we wouldn't otherwise see. The names always fascinate me, Timothy Tortrix being my all time favourite, a fabulous name for a quite insignificant little moth :-)

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    1. You raise a very interesting point Jan and I went through a similar thought process. In the end I reasoned that as long as the traps aren't out too often then the disruption wouldn't be significant. I can also see the benefits of keeping a record to help identify population trends (and problems). It is a tricky one and deserves proper consideration.
      I am really blown away by these magical creatures most of us never see (or certainly not to this extent) and as you say some of the names are wonderful. I personally feel a bit sad for The Snout! CT x

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  8. Fantastic images of the moths, glad to hear the camera is able to catpture what you want. I love the White Ermine. I wonder if my new garden has a varied moth population-I do see quite a few about and the bats feed here too, so I suppose that's a good sign.

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    1. I should imagine you'll have all sorts down there Suzie. You could try going out with a torch and a white sheet at night? (not in a pretending to be a ghost way):-)

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  9. Fantastic last shot and how clever to play dead ...

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    1. It really shocked me VJ, for a few seconds I really did think I'd killed them and felt terrible! :-)

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  10. Lots more fabulous moths! Great stuff and brilliant that you sorted your camera settings, the last photo is wonderful! :)

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    1. I think you need a good macro facility to make the recording worthwhile. The box is going out again tonight (hot weather here) so will stick some more pics up if we get different varieties again :-)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x