During the middle of the week when the weather was warmer and calmer traffic levels were up slightly but not by as much as I had hoped. I have lots of drunken hoverflies and the occasional sozzled Red Admiral making merry beneath the Victoria Plum trees and the broken over-ripe plums I can’t clear. The won’t rake up and some I can’t even pick up; they simply disintegrate and spill out over the ground in a worse mess than before I started on them.
Getting back to my moth watch, the pick of Tuesday evening’s crop was a new moth for me and yet one I knew the minute I saw it I would have no difficulty IDing. It is the Scalloped Oak (crocallis elinguaria). The specimen that came into the bathroom was in beautiful condition. It is a member of the ennominae sub-family of geometers. It is a common moth and on the wing in July and August.
The other species of moth included carcina quercana, which when newly emerged is quite pretty (purples and yellows) though small. Earlier in the year I found plenty of them in the strawberry patch, then they disappeared for quite a time; now they seem to be back regularly though the ones I am seeing are less bright. Other micros included Light Brown Apple Moth which is still about in almost plague proportions, the Brown House Moth and phylctaenia coronata. None of them are remarkable, and all have been about in numbers this year.
Macro moths included the Brimstone Moth (intermittent visitor this year), the Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Garden Carpet and moths that were either the Common Rustic or the very similar Lesser Common Rustic.
Beyond that I found one micro (so small the pictures I took were no help) and one new moth (or at least new for this year) which I’m pretty sure is the Square-spot Rustic (xestia xanthographa).
Then Wednesday evening produced a real treat. Having been distracted (all too easy) and not gone back to the kitchen to make a start on them until after 9:00, on a warm evening with the lights on, I found my plans to get the dishes done being put on hold by a spectacular moth sitting on the top of the humble pile of unwashed dishes.
I had the time to grab magnifying glass and field guide; it sat there patiently while I measured, peered and photographed. It is the Old Lady (mormo maura).
Apart from the Poplar Hawk-moth this is the biggest moth I’ve seen this year. The typical wingspan of the species is about 7cm; even at rest with the wings brought together it is still an impressive size. This one had evidently been in the wars and had extensive damage to the left forewing.
It is a resident moth in the UK (meaning that the full life-cycle takes place here) with local distribution and on the wing between July and September. It is not regularly brought to light so I feel a bit fortunate to have seen this one, though it is typically found near rivers and marshes so this is the right environment.
In the bathroom I found a couple of Small China-marks, a crambus perlella and yet more Light Brown Apple Moths. Of the macros the only certainties were another Setaceous Hebrew Character (hard to believe I’d not seen one before this year) and the first Common Wainscot of the year:
The Rustic (hoplodrina blanda) and the Uncertain (hoplodrina alsines) are virtually indistinguishable, particularly by an ill-equipped rank amateur. Flight periods and location are no help. I’m sure this is one or the other:
And similarly the Common Rustic and Lesser Common Rustic are very nearly impossible to distinguish with the naked eye and in the absence of a willingness to sacrifice the moths to make an ID.:
Finally I had help from Ben Sale to identify this one as the Pale Mottled Willow (paradrina clavipalpis); another first for me. August has not been everything I’d hoped but I’m pretty sure that the list for the month will not look too thin, now, compared with June and July.
Last night was much thinner – the only new moth was this macro which I’ve tentatively identified as a Shuttle-shaped Dart (agrotis puta puta).
Which brings me up to date and so I can slink off and feel sorry for myself. I’m paying a price for this. The night before last I sustained quite an attack by something and as a result have nasty bites on hand, arm and foot – the bits of me that stuck out from under the covers I suppose. I’d dearly love to wage chemical warfare on the midges but probably won’t for the sake of the moths.