It was only Monday when I was telling you all about Merveille Du Jours; how they are the pinnacle of many a moth'ers wish list, and how, although widespread, they are also scarce so you don't often get to see them, and how pleased I was that one had graced the Moth Box on Sunday night.
Well, look what happened this morning. THREE of them. None were actually inside the box, instead they had taken up various snooze points round about, which just goes to show the importance of checking the vicinity. Two were tucked up on strings of old bindweed twirled about the fence and as such were quite well protected from birds, but the third was snoozing on the bird table. That has to be the least safe place in the whole world for a moth to chose to fall asleep on. Needless to say I brought him indoors with the others, where he proceeded to be Grumpy and Irritable, shaking his wings and generally bickering with the other two, until I put him in a pot all by himself.
They have this wonderful colour and pattern to help them blend in with moss and lichens on oaks, which is where they lay their eggs....
MDJs need Ivy flowers and berries at this time of year to feed on, so resist the temptation to hack back at your ivy if at all possible, and especially if you've got oak trees nearby.
I sent a text to my mate Dave when I realised how many there were because I know he hasn't seen one yet and he popped round to get some pictures. We put the moths on some pink paper and clicked away with our cameras and it struck me it was like a photo-call on a red carpet. These are the Film Stars, Darlings of the moth world. I like their stripey stockings....
|A beaded Chestnut and two Black Rustics|
I ignored the Death Scene, and a few minutes later he'd righted himself and all was well again....
A Silver Y was waiting for me on the edge of the box when I went out to bring it in at 7.30. Can you spot the identifying feature? (It's the upside down "y" shaped mark on his side).
I was slightly delayed bringing the box in and one of our very clever Robins had got there first and was also sitting on the box: he saw me coming and flew off with something white and suspiciously moth-shaped in his beak. I hope (if that's the right word from someone who loves all her moths) that it was one of the many November Moths who have just started appearing, and not another Swallow Tail like the one below....
Don't you think it's beautiful and delicate? I saw two last year (they like perching on windows and are quite widespread so if it's worth checking yours for one), but this is the first to come visiting this year. My breath did rather catch in my throat when I saw her asleep on the wall of the house. They are reasonably big moths with a wingspan of 6cm and this will be one of the rarer second broods which occasionally fly late Sept- early Oct (otherwise they are more usually seen late June to mid August).
And here is the November Moth (ten in the box, they must have just hatched)....
Also represented was the Beautiful Hook-tip below. This individual is a second generation moth (second generations for the Beaut HT are fairly new occurrences and happen in the South of the UK only, otherwise in other parts of the country you'll find it flying late June to early August). It is now a wide-spread moth and was recorded in Yorkshire in 1997 for the first time in 120 years. Moths are key indicator species for Climate change, so tracking their progress is an important part of biodiversity records.
I'm fairly sure this (below) is a Blair's Shoulder Knot, even though I would quite like it to be a Sprawler, because I haven't seen one of those before. If any of my mothing friends would like to venture an opinion I'd welcome the input....
The Blair's Shoulder Knot is an example of a recent colonist that has been extremely successful in it's ability to become resident right across the UK. It was first recorded on the Isle of Wight in 1951 and since then has become very well distributed in the South. It reached Scotland in 2001. At a time when many species are declining, this one is a success story. This is probably because it is a generalist species that makes use of conifers, Juniper and Cypress trees and there are many of these right across the UK, thanks to the Forestry Commission planting so many after the war. The preponderance of conifers is not something ecologists are generally happy about (we lost many ancient Broad-leaved woodlands to make way for conifer plantations, although the policy has since changed and broad-leaves are again on the increase), but this moth is a success story and we do need more of those.
Next is this Red-Line Quaker. There were two of these classic Autumn moths in the box. They fly between Sept and Nov. They are also widespread across the UK and like many Autumn moths require Ivy flowers to sustain them. The larval food plant is Willow.
Well, I think I'm about Mothed Out after that lot, so I suspect you will be too. Half term is about to explode on me here and to be honest we could all do with a break from the school routine. I have reading to do for college, patients to look after, my Aunty to visit and my in laws to bake cakes and make tea for, not to mention pals coming over for supper, so it's busy, busy here as usual, just without the school day in the middle of it all.
I'm looking forward to the break, and to spending some time with L, who is growing like mad and catching me up. We can now wear each other's clothes and he can almost get into my shoes. You would think that being a lad I'd be in no danger on that score, but he has developed a penchant for putting on my heels and strutting about in them which has everyone here in stitches because he can walk better in them than I can. That boy makes me laugh like no one else can.
Enjoy the weekend all,