Friday, 30 May 2014

Moths & Butterflies, And A Little Quiz For You All....

It was Moth Box Night last night. No rain and reasonable temperatures brought one hundred and thirty moths of forty seven different species to the box, thirteen of which were new for the year, bringing my total to about one hundred and fifteen.

Amongst them there was a very small moth I have been wanting to see for ages, having only seen him in books before. He's a Chinese Character, and to be honest, he looks like a lump of bird poo. He's about twelve mm in length and seven in width, so not a big moth, but a very sweet one...

As if to make up size-wise, there were two Giants of the Moth World in the box beside the diminutive Chinese Elephant Hawk and a Privet Hawk, both of which visited last year but this is their first appearance in 2014. They bring my total of Hawks to three. I am still hoping hawk-wise for a Lime, a Death's Head, a Pine and a Hummingbird, but time will tell on those.

The Ele Hawks are very sweet and friendly natured souls who are generally Quite Happy to sit on your finger and pose for pictures. This one (believe it or not) was a little on the small side for a ele, but I just adore those colours.....Isn't nature amazing?

Here's looking at you, kid.

The Privet Hawk (below) hides a secret, which he will reveal if asked politely....

The pink and black under-stripes are beautiful and doubtless an adaptation to warn off predators.

Also new in the box was the delicately pretty Peach Blossom...

And the aptly named Snout.....

There were a Few Familiars also in the box, which I am setting for you as a little quiz (you can thank Amy at Love Made My Home for this as she gave me the idea in an earlier post). The answers are at the bottom of the post. Good Luck! And let me know how you did.....



3 & 4......






L had his mate Will over today, and after lunch with the weather improving, I crow-barred them off their computers and took them over to college to look for slow worms, voles and flutters. L was overjoyed (not) but Will, who is a bit younger and therefore still pretty amenable to going looking for wild creatures, was thrilled when we found several voles curled up in little nests beneath the pieces of corrugated iron, a shrew who ran towards me rather than away, owing to poor eyesight (if I were to draw a shrew I would add small round spectacles on the end of his long nose), and several slow worms.

I began to tell them about the colony of Small Blues we have there, and how precious they are because not only is this a nationally declining species, but it is extinct in certain areas of the country, but L's interest had peaked with the old trees way back and even Will only managed a polite 'oh yes?' before they both scuttled off to climb the trees again, leaving me to have half an hour of enjoyable wandering taking pics of the fluttering folk and the plants that are blossoming on the transect.....

Burnet Companion Moth

Common Blue Butterfly

Common Blue

Common Blue

Common Blue

Common Blue

Common Orchids

Greater Birds Foot Trefoil

Kidney Vetch (sole food plant for the Small Blue)

Orange Tip (male)

Self Heal

Small Blue

Small Blue (female- no blue scales on the wing, unlike the male)

Small Blue

Speckled Wood
After that Feast Of Flutters, I'll leave you with a pic of our Blue Tit, who has produced a nest-full of noisy babies in the house my friend Mrs M gave me for my birthday back in April which we put up on the side of the garage under the sheltering arms of the Corkscrew Willow. Apparently, it came from the Ideal Home Exhibition, so these are possible the Smartest Homed Blue Tit babies in the world.....:-)


Have a good evening all,

CT :-)

1. Brimstone
2. Pebble Hook-Tip
3 & 4. Buff-Tip and White Ermine
5. May Highflyer
6. Broken-Barred Carpet Moth
7. Peppered Moth
8. Cinnabar
9. Puss Moth
10. Poplar Hawk-Moth

Now, be honest- how did you do? If you got 5 or more I reckon that's pretty good going, especially as I was mean and numbers 5 and 6 are not easy moths to know. Under 3- well, stick with the blog and you'll get plenty more practice. By the end of the year, you'll be an expert! :-)


  1. I'm so pleased I found your blog, its so very interesting and I love it.
    How big is this moth box? I imagine them all piled up on top of one another. ha ha.
    The Ele Hawk is simply amazing and I never knew there were so many different species. Great post, thankyou.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Briony- I'm so glad you find the blog interesting. The moth box is a large round tub about 12 inches high and 24 across with a plastic neck over which a bright light is suspended. Inside, the box is full of egg boxes, which give the moths somewhere to rest and sleep. I'll put a pic up next time to show you.
      We're coming into really spectacular moth time as far as the season goes, so there will be more beautiful and unexpected colours coming over the next couple of months x

  2. Stunning photos.. and that Ele Hawk moth is simply beautiful. I'll admit to not liking moths.. something I think to them being 'creatures of the night' and that they tend to flap quickly around you unlike butterflies gentle flapping. But my mind is changing especially after seeing your wonderful moth photos... now if only I could conquer my absolute dislike of spiders.. I some how think, that is a much greater challenge..*sigh* :o) x

    1. I know what you mean about fear of insects- maybe because we all grew up thinking of them as 'creepy crawlies' which is an unfair tag in so many ways. Moths are called 'butterflies of the night' in France (Papillon du nuit). They also the same job pollinator-wise as bees and flutters, so they are really important folk. I'm so pleased you are able to see them in a different light through the blog- there will be many more lovely colours coming now, as the summer gets going (ps- I have to work very hard indeed not to run away screaming from spiders too!) x

  3. I got three. Boo! I have seen lots of Small Blue butterflies walking the footpath between Godrevy and Hell Mouth. There are an abundance of wild flowers, kidney vetch being one. I didn't know that was the Blue's only food source. You are very good at capturing them on camera. I have no such luck. Do you have better luck at certain times of the day, or weather conditions?
    Have a great weekend.
    Leanne xx

    1. Three is pretty good- I think you should give yourself a pat on the back :-)
      Great to hear you've got a colony of Small Blues near you- they really need all the help they can get right now.
      In terms of capturing them on camera, it's a mixture of knowing where to look and in what conditions, and then a heavy dollop of luck and patience! Generally, sunshine, warmth and low wind conditions are the best for flutters. Too hot though and they flit about too much. I tend to go on my own now- partly so there's no one else tramping about disturbing them, but mainly because then I don't get told off for taking ages while everyone else gets bored!! Have a lovely weekend too- sunshine is forecast, hooray! x

  4. I got one only because we have lots of them No 8, my father was always dragging me off for nature walks as a child & while I enjoyed them I was never that bothered, funny how you change in later life. Thankfully I do recall a lot of what he taught me so I must have listened.

    1. The Cinnabars are very striking looking and generally good as a day time moth to spot. Do you have ragwort growing nearby?
      Your experience with your dad gives me hope for L, who is currently going through that 'I want to do everything the opposite of what you want' stage :-) F and J are more amenable to looking, but not really all that interested: maybe it will come out in later life!

  5. They are all so beautiful, but the Peach Blossom and the lovely Small Blue are my favourites. We have Holly Blues but the Smalls don`t seem to like it around here.

    1. The Peach Blossom is a beautiful moth, I remember being so pleased when it arrived last year. Another stunner is the burnished brass, which is golden and will be arriving soon.

      I suspect your lack of Small Blues is food-plant and soil related. They are flutters largely of calcareous soils so I suspect the forest is too acidic for them. You'll get species there that aren't common elsewhere- the Pearl-Bordered Fritillary butterfly is one that springs to mind. It's in national decline as well so worth keeping an eye out for :-)

  6. Lovely butterfly and wildflower photos CT and a great selection of moths - love the Hawkmoths :) Peach Blossom is beautiful too and the little Chinese Character - I've never had either of those here.

    1. I love that little Chinese Character- so unlike all other moths :-)

      Am looking forward to more flutter sightings over the summer- am doing better than last year and am just loving all the Blues.

      ps- saw a newt in our pond for the first time today- am soooo pleased!

  7. Great post with beautiful photos, we bought a UV light and made a home made light box, put it out last night for the first time, caught zip :( apart from one small moth that flew of trying to get it out of the egg box !
    We also found a Brimstone moth on shed wall which flew of, luck would have it, it came back and I managed to get some photos...going on my garden list :)
    Amanda x

    1. Stick with it, as it gets warmer at night you'll get more of them coming to the box, although I did find a lot of my moths used to escape until I got the Robinson (which is expensive, but works a treat).
      Great about the Brimstone- such pretty moths :-)

  8. Biodiversity is the window of mystery, wonder and great beauty! WOW! Thanks for sharing these images.

  9. I would be so overwhelmed if I ever saw an elephant hawk moth in nature - wonderful colouring! Maybe I would see more moths if I went out at night, I suppose...
    I scored 4 out of 10 in your quiz but will aim to do better next time by following your posts. Please do another quiz sometime soon...
    All the best :)

    1. They are glorious things, the ele hawks :-) Take a white sheet and a torch out into your garden on a warm summer's night- you'll get loads landing on the sheet. We had a hawk moth arrive on the sheet last summer!

      Well done on the quiz- four is a good score. Glad you enjoyed it and I'll do another one before long, maybe with butterflies this time too :-)

  10. When I was a kid I had a huge fascination for moths and would watch them and be fascinated for hours on end by all their shapes and sizes and faces. You have renewed that fascination in me , I now take time again to observe them and appreciate them. I will now have to try my hand at getting some photos of them up close. How interesting the species you have shown are ! Of course I never tire of telling about being graced by a Luna moth coming i to visit years back ~ still excites me, and yes I got pictures before I gently had it land on the back of my hand and helped it back out to the outdoor world . I have to say it's visit was such a treat !

    1. I'm so pleased you've rediscovered a love of moths. I think they are amazing, graceful, peaceful creatures and I miss them when I don't see them for a few days. I'd love to see photos of the ones you get over the water :-)

  11. I got 3 1/2 - buff tip, ermine, cinnabar and knew the last one was a hawkmoth!
    Insanely jealous of your Elephant Hawkmoth because that and its caterpillar are my most want to see moth and caterpillar respectively! Well done. :-)

    1. Excellent! I shall do some more quizes....

      There was another ele in the box this morning, still quite small so I guess they will get bigger as the generation goes on :-)

  12. Great post, the Chinese Character is unusual, and you're right, it does resemble bird poo!!!
    The Ele hawks are so lovely, such pretty colours, and the Peach Blossom is pretty too. I really didn't realise that moths were so fascinating!! I am glad I found your blog, so interesting.
    I got 3 in the quiz, so must try harder!!!
    The Blue butterflies are so gorgeous, I've yet to see any blue ones, will be so excited when I do.
    Have a great week xxxx

    1. Three is good, especially if you're relatively unused to seeing moths close up :-) I shall put some flutters in the mix next time....

      I get a thrill every time I see a Blue Butterfly, there is just something about them. It isn't long until Chalkhill Blue season, and they are stunning too. I'll get some pics for the blog once they're out and about. So pleased you're enjoying it. I only really write about the things I love and hope other people aren't bored reading it!

      Have a lovely week yourself x

  13. Hi there, only just getting to stop by! So, I only got two! The White Ermine and the Cinnabar again. At least I have got those two down. I need to keep reading for sure. I thought that I had another one, but it wasn't the "scorched one" and also none turned out to be called "that twiggy one"!!!!!!! What a surprise!!!!!!!!!! I love the game though and will keep reading and trying to remember and recognise them. xx

    1. Two is a pretty good score! I will to remember to put the 'scorched one' (wing) in next time :-) xx


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them. CT.