Monday, 22 June 2015

Elephant Hawks Arrive AND I Get Two Rare Moths Visiting AND The Marbled Whites Are Out On The Chalk :o)

As you know, I have been Very Concerned about the lack of Ellie Hawks here in recent weeks. This large pink and green moth is usually with us by mid May, but until this morning I'd hadn't seen a single one. Phew.

As luck would have it, TWO arrived (along with a Poplar Hawk friend) last night. They were Very Aggrieved at being put in a pooter, so when we got back (see next para) I let them out and they all took up sleepy roost on the camera case. Which is where they still are, snoring gently beside me as I type...


It rained last night and all morning. I was supposed to be taking a group of five year olds up to Magdalen to look at the butterflies. I went to their school instead and took some moths with me. The Ellie Hawks were Stars Of The Show, along with the Buff Tip (below), whose silver birch twig-like appearance is always a guaranteed winner with any audience, young or old.

Teaching very young children is such a joy. Their enthusiasm, wonder, amazement and engagement with their world coupled with their humour and sheer energy make spending time with them showing them things like moths and butterflies, empty birds' eggs, dragonfly exuvia and moth pupae a very rewarding thing. These are the next generation of naturalists waiting in the wings after all, and it was lovely to see one or two in particular who knew their stuff and were really interested in the wild things I had taken with me.

As well as the Ellies, there were some other New For The Year species in the box...

Riband Waves come in two colour varieties and we get lots of them. This is the first of many id previous years are anything to go by...

I've only ever had one Bird's Wing in the garden before, so it was lovely to see this one...

Buff Arches are a regular feature with hundreds arriving here once summer cranks up a gear or two. They are extraordinary looking moths, and I am ashamed to say I get a wee bit bored of them after I've chased the two hundredth round the kitchen trying to put him outside :o)

Purple Clays have also just started to appear (unless this is a Double Square Spot)

And there's been a Run of Scorched Wings here this year which is unusual...

Grass Veneers are showing up in Good Numbers (love the expression)...

This lovely Pale Oak Beauty is I think a first for us...

The Grey Arches we've had before, but not yet this year until today...

These next two are definite contenders for Exotic Moth Of The Year.

The Brussels Lace (below) is considered Locally Common in the UK (meaning it's rare but can be found in reasonable numbers where it exists, if that makes sense?). It was in Kent, Surrey and Sussex until the 1950s when it declined to near extinction.  It can be an immigrant and although it is found throughout the New Forest (a few miles down the road from here) and there are scattered populations on the other side of Stockbridge (again, a few miles from here) there are no records of it in my neck of the woods, so I'm pretty chuffed to see it. I've never recorded one here before. The larvae feed on lichen... 
Our County Moth Recorder will be pleased when I tell him :o)

The other Contender is this rather beautiful Bordered Straw (below), which is also an immigrant. They sometime arrive in Saharan dust storms and that, coupled with their pale coloration, suggests a desert origin, which feels Marvellously Exotic considering he's turned up in my Hampshire garden! They feed on marigolds and can sometimes appear in good numbers all along the south coast if conditions are right. I'm double chuffed to see him as a mothy friend who's been trapping locally for forty years has only ever had two in his garden in all that time. Happy Moth Days Indeed :o)

I've also got some Flutter Photos for you as it's been a while.

The Marbled Whites are out...

Marbled White

Knapweed Broomrape

Large Skipper
Meadow Brown (note the single white dot in the centre of the black spot- see para below for explanation)

Pyramidal Orchid

Path through the wildflower meadow

Small Blue


Tufted Vetch
Common Blue
The Broomrape is an interesting plant- it's a parasite that feeds off the root system of its host plant, in this instance Knapweed. And the Meadow Brown can be told apart from the almost-identical-when-wings-closed Gatekeeper by the single white dot in the centre of the black spot on the underside of its wings (Gatekeepers have two white dots in the black spot). They'll be out soon so you'll know now how to tell them apart (if you didn't before).

Next time I have a piccie of a Glow Worm and a recording of Nightjars for you...

Hope all are well,

CT :o)


  1. Beautiful photos CT. I am becoming fascinated by moths and to think that the furry looking moth, was it a buff arch, is the one I used to be afraid of as a little girl. Your butterfly photos are so clear, I don't know how you do it. My son, who is a very keen photographer and has a website just for his photos, is coming home tonight and I'm going to have a serious talk about cameras with him. Thank you for the info on glow worms. We will be on heathland but if successful I'll go up the hill onto the chalk and see what I can find.
    The pale blue geranium is G. Pratense I think, the bees love it in my garden.

    1. Once you get the moth bug it'll have you in its grip forever!

      I think photography is largely a matter of practice, patience and developing the ability to 'see' the picture before you take it. Maybe a little bit of sixth-sense alchemy thrown in for good measure :o)

      Good luck for the glowies- we saw them on Heath the other night so there's no reason you shouldn't. And yes to the cranesbill- Meadow.

  2. Hey CT,
    I have to report that we have been getting some lovely moths in the garden. I have no idea of their name, and they are a bugger to photograph. For now, we are content to watch them. I'm also amazed by the sheer variety of pollinators. I'm not able to identify many of them either; bumbles yes, the others are tricky. But again, it's just lovely to see so many of them going about their business. Your butterflies are always wonderful; I've just not been that lucky this year. I live vicariously through yours. The marbles white is quite stunning.
    Leanne xx

    1. Great to hear about your moths and pollinators. I suspect many will be hoverflies? They have bigger eyes than bees and wasps but otherwise can look very similar. There are also lots of solitary bees about this year.
      I don't think it's been a great year so far for garden flutters- I've hardly seen any. Am seeing lots of the more specialist ones because I'm going to the sites that are managed with them in mind- at least it proves the management is working I suppose, but it would be nice to see some more Peacocks, Admirals and Torts, and the Brimmies seem to be in mid-season pause too. Hope all's well hun, xx

  3. Fabulous moths, I can just imagine how excited the 5 year olds were. I bet they all went home and talked about it all over the dinner table, I know mine would have done. No doubt it will stay with them for a long time. I was reading something the other day about how we won't save what we don't love, and we won't love what we don't know etc. etc. Well done for starting them all out on the right path. The marbled white is a thing of beauty. I photographed either a gatekeeper or a meadow brown yesterday, I shall go and check my photos and see which one it was. I shall also check my ellie hawk moth chrysalis tomorrow as well. So glad they have turned up with you at last. Is the moth trapping easy to do? I wonder if it's something I could do in the garden with the boys. I shall give it some thought. CJ xx

    1. I hope they did go home and tell their parents all about it- that would make my day to know they enjoyed it. They did say they hoped I'd come back and see them again, bless their little cottons :o)

      I thought of you when I saw the Ellies this morning. I thought:I wonder whether CJs pupa (chrysalis is strictly speaking the name for butterfly pupae only) has hatched out yet.

      Mothing is easy peasy and I'm sure your lads would love it. The cheaper light traps start at around £100-£150 if memory serves. They work, but don't have great retention rates as the moths can and do escape then. Mine is a Robinson Mercury Vapour, a professional trap that costs around £300 that pretty much keeps all the moths in. Have a look at Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies website. xx

  4. I'm not five years old but I'm excited!
    Jane x

  5. Fabulous post with brillain Months photographed, beautiful flowers, especially love the Teasel shot and gorgeous butterflies.

    1. Things are starting to improve moth-wise- warmer weather helps x

  6. Lovely post m'dear, I'm curious as to the range of the 'ellie' moth in the country and what the wee beasties can be tempted plant wise by?

    1. You'll find them all round the country, even in Wales :o) The adults like plants like honeysuckle and fuschia, anything that is tubular, and the larvae feed on the willowherb family and fuschias. They're flying from now until August- good luck, hope you manage to see one. They are often found at rest on plants in the afternoon, so it's worth checking bushes in the garden x

    2. That's fortunate as I have both Fuschias and Honeysuckle just about to flower....eyes peeled here in Wales m'dear

  7. I do love moths and have painted cecropia and luna moths, the only two I can identify. I found them lying on the ground, expired, and both are so huge. Really enjoyed painting them. Do you know that the indian tribes in the US are helping fund tribe members to open a small business raising butterflies and moths. I was so surprised.

    1. I had to look up your painted cecropia- wow! that is one amazing looking moth! I didn't know that about the Indian tribes and butterflies, interesting. Thank you for the comment, Donna.

  8. Lovely selection of moths and butterflies CT with some great photos. Had one Elephant Hawkmoth here so far this year but I only trap a few each year. Bordered Straw seem to be invading the country in great numbers if Twitter and Blogland are anything to go by! Our County Recorder was over the moon to trap a couple. The Brussels Lace is a lovely moth.

    1. I've heard same about Bordered Straw since getting mine. Must be perfect conditions for them.

  9. Aren't moth's just the most amazing critters. I shall be sure to share this post with my daughter in law who is an NT ranger and utterly fascinatedwith a soft spot for moths as well as a professional interest.

    1. They keep me endlessly fascinated, even the little brown jobs. I bet your DIL loves being an NT ranger. I have a friend who does the same job and loves it :o)

  10. Great collection of moths, and I too was impress with the enthusiasm and knowledge of some of the young children at the trapping I went to...
    Have been reading up a little on host plants for Butterflies and moths, which is very interesting (now there's a post you could do (for me :))
    Just missed out on doing a Nightjar trip so will be interesting to see what you found.
    Amanda xx

    1. It's heart warming that the youngsters are keen. I've been at another school today and there were a couple of kids who really impressed me with their knowledge.

      Have just posted the food plants for you and the nightjar vid xx


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