Wednesday, 1 July 2015

My Favourite Moths Arrive With A Heatwave

Last night was the hottest night of the year here, and with high temperatures and high humidity forecast it was always going to be a Bumper Moth Night. The temperature only dropped to 18 celcius (briefly, at about 2.30am, otherwise it was hovering around 20), and humidity was 82% at its highest. Moths do love a hot sticky night (unlike people, who in this house at least didn't sleep well, despite the removal of the duvet and its replacement with a light summer quilt I made last year, and the opening of every window in the house).

There were 56 different species in the box this morning (more probably because I am not recording micros- unless they are obvious- this year).

Among the jewels were two of my all-time favourite moths: the spectacular Large Emerald and the diminutive Rosy Footman.

The Large Emerald is a moth who doesn't appear for me all that often- I've only seen it once before, two summer's ago. So I have been grinning all over my face all day today, having spotted it fluttering about first thing. It was a few hours later that I emptied the box and the Emerald had disappeared :o( There were two Common Emeralds also in there and for a moment I wondered if I'd mistaken one of them for the Large, but then I discovered her sleeping on an Emma Bridgewater special edition Jug that a friend gave me when I got married (who knew moths had such good taste, eh?)....




Is that not one of the most beautiful moths ever? They look like green butterflies.

The Common Emerald is another very pretty moth, although a good degree smaller than the Large...


There are only a handful of green moths, and the Emeralds are the freshest green of them all. There is also only one green butterfly, so I always appreciate seeing them. The Large Emerald really signifies hot summer weather for me as I only ever see them when the temperature and humidity rocket.

My other favourite is the Rosy Footman. These moths remind me of L, because they flock to him. I have very dear memories of him sitting on the floor chatting to me one summer's afternoon a couple of years ago with various Rosy Footmen fast asleep on him (including one on his foot, which made us both giggle). They are very characterful moths and I smile whenever I see them. Small and feisty, they are :o) This will be the first of many.


You know by now that I love all moths, but even so there were a couple of other special ones in the box- special because I don't see them often. The first was this lovely Privet Hawkmoth who is currently snoozing on the puller for the blind by the window. I am worried because he is in the sun but I expect he will move into shelter at some point if the heat bothers him...



Another I don't see all that often is this beautiful Scarlet Tiger moth. He's elderly, because his wing tips are raggedy.



They like wet places and do fly by day so keep your eyes peeled on beaches, at wetlands and by rivers as they're on the wing from now until the end of July. The larvae need comfrey and hemp agrimony, but will also feed on nettle, bramble, sallow, honeysuckle and meadowsweet, which is doubtless why we get them here from time to time. Always a pleasure to see a Tiger Moth as there is concern that their numbers are now declining.

Another treasure not often seen but present this morning was this beautiful female Ghost Moth. Most moths have sticky feet, but the Ghost Moth is soft. They belong to the Swift Moth family, very primitive moths who do not feed as adults and over winter twice as pupae. The males display at dusk, swaying over one spot, often in numbers, as if attached to a pendulum. They release a goat-like scent which attracts the females. The display is called lekking and the larvae feed on grass roots, burdocks, nettles, docks and wild strawberries. They are common across the UK.


Yet another rarity for me is this Barred Straw. This one is a boy. You can tell that from the way he holds his tail up when he is resting. These moths are common across the UK and the larvae feeds on cleavers and bedstraws, with the moth overwintering as an egg.


Then there was a Phoenix. We get Small Phoenix here quite regularly, but not the Big Chaps, so that was a nice surprise and it took me a while to ID him as a result. The larvae need currants, and I'm wondering if he's turned up because we put in a Ribes last year.


Beautiful Hooktips have started to arrive (another sign of mid-summer for me). The larvae of these moths feed on lichens.


And I know you've all seen this moth before, but I haven't had as many White Ermines this year as in previous, and I do think they are beautiful, so here is a White Ermine for Good Measure...

I'll leave you with a snapshot of what life is like in our house. When I came down for breakfast this morning I found this sign M had left as a reminder the night before...


The explanation is that he'd discovered a poor dead mole on the drive and I'd left it in the garden last night for any passing owl, but we decided not to leave it there today because Poppy would have picked it up, brought it indoors and sucked it. Yuk.

Poor Old Mole. We don't see them here at all and I do love them so.



The temperature has now risen to 31, higher than a few mins ago when I took this pic..


So the dogs and I are spending the afternoon indoors. They are both passed out in their beds and I may just sit down and watch the tennis players sweating it out at Wimbledon, it being far too hot to do anything useful outdoors.

I had a strange experience while out walking the hounds first thing (it was already hot at 26 degrees even then). I found myself counting the two dogs and looking around distractedly for the third, before I remembered we don't have three dogs. It was a whippet I looking for. The last time something like this happened Poppy arrived a few weeks later :o) I'd better not mention this to M, who considers we are well served in the dog department already....

The heat wave is set to continue for a few more days and L's school has finally given them permission to leave their blazers at home. I sent him off with a bottle of frozen drink this morning so it can defrost as the day goes on but still give him something icy cool to keep hydrated with. We used to do that when I was a kid and it always brings back memories of boiling hot summer days at school for me. It must be so hard for them to concentrate when the weather's like this. I do hope the teachers have taken that into account and are letting them chill out a bit. 

Purple Emperor Hunting on Fri (the Emperor blog is full of sightings since the start of the week, so finger's crossed).

Hope you're all well and keeping cool if it's hot with you too,

CT :o)

38 comments:

  1. I have a moth phobia, but I must say that Large Emerald is absolutely beautiful and of course so like a butterfly that I can tolerate it reasonably well. Your photographs are extremely good and I wonder if viewing them may well help me to get over this silly phobia.

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    1. I am the same with spiders so I sympathise. Phobias are absurd things, but knowing that makes no difference at all to the reaction. I hope you find some alleviation of your concerns looking at my moths and reading about them. x

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    2. Do you know what?? Even before I'd read this comment I'd made my mind up to tell you that slowly but surely you are curing me of my abject horror against moths!

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    3. Ps, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to reciprocate by posting lots of spider pics!

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  2. I think you are enjoying our summer weather. It has been cool and wet here for a while now. If you get fed up with the heat, just send it our way.

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    1. We are! I'll keep it for a day or two longer, then you can have it back :o)

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  3. Beautiful set of moths and photos, the The Large Emerald is stunning.
    Had my home made trap out but not catching anything, but a few moths have been round the light, a lovely Ruby Tiger and a Map-winged Swift. OH been quite interested to in flutters and moths since rearing the small T's so going to suggest we buy a Skinner Trap, think he might just say yes....
    Amanda xx

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    1. Ooh! Very exciting news about your potential skinner. One word of caution- they are great to start you off but the retention rate is poor. BUT you should get enough in it to make it interesting. x

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    2. We have ordered the trap :))))))))

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    3. Woop Woop! Excellent news- I'll bet you're sooooo excited! xx

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  4. The common emerald is such a beautiful colour. Living next to fields I have noticed so many more moths flying around. I'm sure you recommended a moth box to get you started maybe last year or was it the year before! I had a quick search but couldn't find it. Am I dreaming this? Sarah x

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    1. That's great you're seeing more moths - we'll have you id'ing them before long :o) The box I recommended was probably an actinic skinner. As mentioned to Amanda in the comment above, they are good starter models but they don't retain the moths as well as the more expensive boxes. If you google Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies they'll be able to help (very nice and helpful company for all things mothy and butterfly). CT x

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  5. Oh that large emerald is absolutely exquisite. What a colour. The ermines are gorgeous too. I do love seeing your moth pictures. The littlest boy put his drink in the freezer this morning, but then went to school without it. Hopefully we'll do better tomorrow. CJ xx

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    1. I think it must have been freshly emerged, it was perfect. I couldn't stop looking at it all day. Hope your little chap got his frozen drink today, although it is cooler here xx

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  6. I love seeing moths and butterflies, but I'm not good when they fly too close to me. There have been so many butterflies in my garden today - a wonderful sight. x

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    1. The warmer weather brings them all out, although flutters don't like it when it gets above 20- they tend not to settle so much in hot weather and fly about more x

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  7. Simply stunning! I love all the moth names too, so evocative. It is so hot here too, properly mid-summer at last. I get that 'other' dog feeling too sometimes and am trying to ignore it but it is terribly hard. x

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    1. Moth names are great, aren't they? My favourite is Cousin German. I have no idea how that got named. M is always making up new ones (mostly rude). My favourite of his is Dusty Fidget :o)

      Yes, third dog dilemmas. It doesn't seem to want to leave me alone. Perhaps just a small glance through the rescue pages.... xx

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  8. What a beautiful green moth.
    I don't like spiders either. We have so many poisonous ones and scorpions that if I see one in my home it gets squashed !

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Fear of poisonous spiders sounds eminently sensible to me, Parsnip :o) Hope your wee lad is feeling better x

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  9. Beautiful photos, beautiful moths, the Large Enerald ... wow! I now know it was a White Ermine we had in the kitchen the other day and I saw a number of beauties last night which I will try and ID. We thought about going Nightjar watching but my lovely local greengrocer had given me a box of apricots most of which needed turning into jam pretty swiftly, so that's what I was doing on the hottest evening of the year. Actually it was cooler standing in the kitchen moth spotting than watching tennis on catch-up in the sitting room! And the moon last night was wonderful too. A whippet sounds fun, but would it run as fast as Poppy?

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    1. It was muggy here too although our sitting room is the coolest place in the house, so I Wimbledoned in there. Don't like the new format for the evening look back at the day part though :o(

      Apricot jam sounds lovely. We won a hamper of fruit last week- am juicing like mad!

      An race between a whippet and Pop would be interesting. She set off after a deer through the woods this morning and went like a bullet x

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  10. Thank goodness it was nt as hot over here (yet) as you are experiencing. Loved seeing the Mole, i have never seen on in the wild and all your Moth shots are great. it was lovely for you to se ones that don't often appear.

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    1. I remember saying to M once that although I love Ireland I couldn't live there because I would miss the moles too much- he thinks I am completely mad! x

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  11. Such a beautiful green! You have really opened my eyes to how beautiful moths are. Thank you xx

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    1. Thanks Chickpea :o) So glad you enjoy seeing them x

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  12. I had no idea that this sort of weather would be moth favourable! Another thing that I learned from you!! xx

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    1. Very happy that you're still learning things from the blog- that's very sweet of you to say so x

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  13. What a beautiful, interesting, informative blog you have! How lovely and refreshing! :). Your moths are beautiful and I shall be keeping my eyes peeled for several of those beautiful creatures. Thankyou so much fir sharing x

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    1. Thank you, Wren :o) And thank you for the follow too. x

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  14. Love that Large Emerald Moth m'dear, shame about the mole too it's rare that I've seen one alive I think only twice in my life.

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    1. It is a beauty that moth, isn't it? And as for the mole, I saw one a few weeks ago in the woods (also dead) but apart from that it's been a while. And as you say, ages since I saw a live one.

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  15. They are all so beautiful - especially the simplicity of the emerald - the colour reminds me of that old "beryl" coloured china. Google "Woods Ware Beryl" if you don't know what I mean!
    Wonderful blog post, as always :)

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    1. I had a look and there is a similarity- I suppose imitation is the sincerest form of flattery :o) Hope all's well with you x

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  16. Super moth shots CT, don't see anything like that in my neck of the woods. Aww poor Mole!

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    1. I'll bet there are lots in your garden Ian, just coming out at night so less visible :o)

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  17. oh dear, late to the party as usual! don't know how i missed this one!

    now, who knew that moths were such beautiful wee creatures! the emerald ones are such a gorgeous shade of green. and i love the rosy footman just because of his name!

    that's quite terribly hot for England, isn't it? those temperatures aren't unusual in this hellish climate-of-extremes, but i imagine everyone is melting quietly away over your side of the pond. sending cool thoughts your way.....

    xo

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    1. I'm not getting round everyone's blogs this week either- too much to do and lots of being outside :o) Hope all's well xx

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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