Friday, 24 October 2014

I Don't Want To Appear Greedy, But......

Is this too much.....?


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....




The night was a surprisingly good one for moths, given the time of year, with 32 individuals of 13 species in and around the box. Here are some of them potted up, waiting individual recording and photographing. I may have mentioned before that moths don't breath like humans. They don't have lungs, instead they respire through tiny holes called spiracles along their sides. For this reason, they can be safely kept in a lidded pot without air holes for a few hours until they are ready to fly off at nightfall. L will be glad his Beano has arrived :o)

 
A beaded Chestnut and two Black Rustics
Moths have an Anti-Predator-Device tucked up their sleeves- when threatened, many of them will roll over and play a very convincing dead. Which is what this little Chestnut did when I suggested he might like to sit on a piece of paper so I could take his picture....

 
 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.


Last but not least is this lovely male Feathered Thorn. You can tell he's a boy because he has feathery antennae and the girls do not. The girls are also paler in colour and generally disinclined to visit lights. This is another classic moth of Autumn and will be flying from now until early December. They require broad leaved trees for their children. Quite widespread and often to be seen flying a few hours after dark, so worth keeping an eye out for :o)



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.

Happy Days!

Enjoy the weekend all,

CT x

18 comments:

  1. Well, what a feast of moths you have had this week! Well done with the MDJ's - you obviously have the perfect habitat for them in your area.

    Do the MDJ's spread as far afield as Wales? I think we had something very similar on the outside of the kitchen window one year.

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    1. They do indeed live in Wales, and in some parts can be found in large numbers. There isn't another moth like them (that lovely fresh green colour and the distinctive shape) so they are hard to confuse with anything else. They only fly at this time of year though.

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  2. Now you are just showing off ;-) However seriously it is fantastic to see so many MDJ's together like this and I also enjoyed all the other lovely autumn moths in this post. Infact I enjoyed it so much you have inspired me to put out my own moth trap tonight !

    Best wishes and kindest regards :-)

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    1. Excellent! I am so pleased and will look forward to reading all about it in due course. Am wondering if Merveilles are having a particularly good year, or if I've just been extremely lucky?
      Have a super weekend :o)

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  3. A great collection! Lovely photos of all those different moths. I'm so ready for half term too, but like yours, mine will be quite busy!

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    1. Half term comes at about the right time, doesn't it? Have a lovely week :o)

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  4. They are all so remarkable and beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing. :). I guess that one of the Merveilles needed a time out.

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    1. Thanks, Mary, Glad you enjoyed seeing them :o)

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  5. Just great to see all these wonderful moths CT. The Swallow Tail is incredible and so big. I bet there are quite a few moths in my garden as there are a lot of trees and shrubs for them to move about in.

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    1. I was very pleased with the numbers and the variety, considering the time of year. Am hopeful that moths have had a better year than last year which was poor :o)

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  6. Wonderful to see so many MdJ's together even if you are being greedy :) Interestingly I haven't seen one Silver y this year. I don't get many in the trap but usually see them around Valerian and Buddleia. A few other people have said the same - so perhaps fewer have migrated this year?

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    1. I haven't seen as many Silver Y's this year either. This is the first one at home. You'd think the weather this summer would have brought them over in droves.
      BTW- you were quite right about the Osprey post. It's to encourage them to rest when they pass over during the Autumn migration from Scotland to Africa. No success yet but I shall keep an eye on it now I know it's there. Thank you v much for the prompt :o).

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    1. They are very pretty creatures. I was really pleased to see the Swallowtail too :o)

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  8. Fantastic that you have seen more of these beautiful MDJ moths! I didn't know that info about moths' breathing and that you could put them in boxes like that for a while. Good to know. Also great that there are so many moths still flying late into autumn. Surprised to see a Silver Y still around - I didn't see many of them this year yet the last few years I've seen loads during the summer. Great collection!

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    1. I suspect Silver Y's are down in numbers this year- haven't seen many here either x

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  9. I can see how they would blend in with the lichen! Isn't nature wonderful? I especially like the swallowtail, too, like translucent ivory...
    All the best :)

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    1. Aren't they smashing things? Such clever camo. I love the Swallowtail too- very delicate looking :o)

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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