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,