Friday, 24 June 2022

Little and VERY Large

Last night was ridiculous. Including moths which I caught outside the trap, 107 individuals of 50-ish species was by far the biggest tally so far. And 19 were new! The majority of those 19 were species I had never seen before, anywhere, ever. Including this juggernaut...

Privet Hawk-moth

As I type, this beast is resting up on an old piece of feather-edge fence board, so I just popped out to measure it. Exactly 6cm from nose to wing tip. That equates to a wing-span of 12cm+, about five inches! It is massive. I heard it before I saw it, a sound like a small drone entering the garden air-space. Slow and ponderous, and quite easily caught by hand. All my nearby pots were woefully inadequate and I had to hurry and get an old Tupperware container!

At the other end of the scale, this...


Apparently this micro is common, so I've probably seen loads. But, at 8mm long, who ever notices them? Not me. And yet, even my limited photographic gear is capable of hinting at the tiny stunner hiding there in plain sight. A classy camera set-up really does bring out what little jewels these micros often are.

As with birds, there is incredible variety in moths, incredible beauty too. A few of last night's treasures illustrate that fact rather nicely...






The so-called Dingy Footman - pleasingly smooth and silky-textured - is worlds apart from the scratchily-marked Scorched Wing, or the pinky-purply tones of the butterfly-like Early Thorn. And so many of these pretty things are much smaller than a photo would suggest. The Scorched Wing not much larger than a Common Blue for example, and the lovely Mocha which featured in yesterday's post, a touch smaller...

Mocha on Field Scabious stem. Not a Common Blue.

Possibly the 'best' moth last night was this one...

A pug sp.

Pugs are hard. One or two I can do okay now, but worn individuals are a nightmare. This one looks like it may be a Shaded Pug, but that would be rather a good local record. Unfortunately I only managed a couple of shots like this one; when I tried to get something clearer by opening its pot, away it went, rather pronto.

Any moth enthusiasts reading this post are likely chuckling at all this. Been there, done that. Hopefully it is nice to be reminded of those far-off days of newbie-ness. On the other hand, perhaps you are in the same camp as me until recently. Moths? No thanks. Life's too short. Too much to learn. And you are right. Life is too short, and there is wa-a-a-a-ay too much to learn.

But it's fun trying.

11 comments:

  1. Mothing getting serious now I can tell, Gav. I can remember your first forays into the arts of darkness when you lived in Ricky, the front door lamp and that ID book with about a million possibilities as well.
    I've never seen a Privet Hawk Moth, but I have come across their larvae on their pre pupation walk-about. Seems they eat dahlias of which I have many.

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    1. That Ricky porch light has much to answer for. At a 'catch' rate of one or two moths a night though, it didn't really prepare me for what a proper moth trap pulls in!

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  2. And not a wheatear in sight.

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  3. Great to see you are making good use of the trap. Pulling in some very nice species.

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    1. Ha ha! Thanks John, it's definitely been a brilliant start. Despite poor conditions last night, still caught one new species: Coronet.

      Of course, I blame you for aiding and abetting my addiction! 😄

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  4. Hi Gav - really enjoying your exploits - you're trapping some fabulous species. I've personally never seen porectella so very much doubt you've been overlooking them! Dorset is a fantastic county for moths and, given your location, close to the coast I anticipate you're in for some very exciting times ahead (wait 'til you see Scallop Shell - a personal favourite). Your Shaded Pug looks spot on to me - don't think you need a better photo. The pugs are the gulls of the moth world - some people love them and some people don't 'do' them! Looking forward to future posts. All the best. Matt

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    1. Hi Matt, many thanks for your comment. I've begun to take a lot more notice of (and interest in!) moth-related postings on other blogs and Twitter just lately. I realise my location is pretty excellent for moths too.

      Appreciate the vote for Shaded Pug too. I've just heard that it's had the thumbs-up at county recorder level also. As anyone who knows me might have predicted, I've taken to pugs! And the analogy with gulls is no surprise! 😄👍

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  5. Hi Gav, you think that's ridiculous? Try this on my blog... https://boulmerbirder.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-biggest-catch-here.html
    You have more to come...

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    1. Strewth! That really is a ridiculous catch! Running through your list I was pleased to see a good number that I know I can identify now, even one or two micros. I must be making progress. 😊 Also lots I've not seen yet of course...

      That post must have taken forever to type out accurately!!

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    2. I cheat. There is no typing involved. All moths are in put into my MapMate data base and with a couple of clocks you get a list to copy. MapMate recognises a few letters of a species and you already have your sites set up, so even in putting takes a few minutes...I can get whole lists of my records with individual searches for taxon etc. I couldnt do it any other way.

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