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Friday, 28 August 2015

A nice selection of moths from mid August

There are few benefits to chemo*, but I've found three. I'll tell you about two of them at the end, but pertinent to this post is that when you have a lot of time wallowing about feeling tired and lethargic, not feeling like being sociable on social networks or commenting on blogs, you have the opportunity to look through hundreds of moth photos to help with ID and learning. I've even looked back at my first few moths trapped, many of which I didn't post as they all looked the same to me and identified a worn out Iron Prominent! Course I'm still stuck on many of them and can't easily tell which family they belong to in order to cut down the hundreds of photos I have to go through, but in time it should all become a lot easier - and I used to think IDing blue butterflies and blue damselflies was hard!!!

These are all from the night of 18/19 August which was a fine clear night, and I was surprised by the variety of interesting moths. I haven't seen any hawkmoths since the very first time, but I don't want to find everything all at once anyway.

I'll start with this Tiger moth - I've seen one once before in my veg patch during the day and we had quite a photo session, but it was a surprise to find five of them in the trap that morning.  They are stunning, especially when they deign to open up their wings like this.

Garden Tiger (Arctia caja).

I said I was doing well with the family Lasiocampidae - well I had two more species this time! The Drinker below refused to stand still and would have flown off so I had to snap it quickly.

The Drinker (Euthrix potatoria).

The Drinker (Euthrix potatoria),
about ready to fly off.

This Pine-tree Lappet was the same; it was happily asleep until I had to disturb it for a few photos then it was ready to fly off at any moment, even though it looks like it is asleep here.  

Pine-tree Lappet (Dendrolimus pini).

I knew I'd seen the markings of this next one before, but I still had to trawl through loads of photos before I found it!

Figure of Eighty (Tethea ocularis).

I love this next one, the Lobster, but I'd rather see the caterpillar which is amazing, freaky, looks nothing like a caterpillar and looks rather like a ..... lobster! My white paper is looking a bit grubby here, well the moth had already had a trip up to the ceiling and been brought back for some photos, and sometimes you have to work fast with the flitty ones and there's no time to clean and tidy as you go. Although it did seem to fall asleep after its brief break for freedom. 

I am rarely putting them in specimen jars any more except for when collecting them from the walls and ceilings, and then if they are flitty I cover them in a towel and that quietens them down, rather than putting them in the fridge. How I'm dealing with them now is transferring from the moth trap to a big plastic box with egg boxes in it and covering with a towel which seems to keep them mostly happy and quiet. (Thanks for the tip, Countryside Tales). Then as I go through them inside I transfer the ones I've looked at to another big plastic storage box with another towel over it. I still lose some when I am getting them out of the moth trap, and a number head off to the ceiling indoors when I go through the plastic box - otherwise I'd go through the moths outside in natural light. But I don't want to risk a really special one flying away outside. 

Lobster moth (Stauropus fagi).

Lobster moth (Stauropus fagi).

I can't tell the difference between August and September Thorn moths, so the following is one or the other. I think.

Not sure but one of the Thorn moths (Ennomos sp).

Pretty sure this is the Poplar Kitten (Furcula bifida) -
they are adorable and very furry and sleepy.

One of the Wainscots but I can't tell which one.

If only more moths would open up their wings like the one below so you can see their underwings, it would make IDing for many of them so much easier. However I didn't need the underwings for this one!

Pebble Prominent (Notodonta ziczac).

Pebble Prominent (Notodonta ziczac).

Now for some Noctuid moths and I take back that they are all brown/grey and drab; many most certainly aren't! 

Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum).

A hint of green colour helps with ID. This is a Coronet (Craniophora ligustri).

Rosy Rustic (Hydraecia micacea).

As for the next one, well I spent ages trawling through photos only to discover it had been posted on several blogs just recently. In fact I was looking at a new (to me) blog, Caroline Gill's Wild and Wonderful and I thought - aha - that's that moth! Only to see in the caption a thank you to Ragged Robin for helping with ID - and yes, RR has posted one just recently too on her wildlife blog A Year In The Life Of My Wildlife Garden. I am now looking back on my mothy friends' moth posts over the last month or so as it's proving helpful!

Straw Underwing (Thalpophila matura).

The ID for the next one came from RR too - only somewhere I found a blog giving brilliant info on how to tell the difference between Copper Underwing and Svensson's Copper Underwing. I've lost the link already but UK Moths says the same thing "Svensson's has dark palps with pale tips, whereas Copper Underwing's palps are pale throughout." So I deduce having seen the photos of the difference on the lost link that this one is Svensson's, which is why I included the photo of it running up my wrist, as you can just see the pale tip.

Svensson's Copper Underwing (Amphipyra berbera).

Broad-barred White (Hecatera bicolorata).

And to finish, a couple of Geometrids. This first one's larvae feeds on lichen, which was something that amazed me when I learned there were moths whose babies did this! I'm going to have to go out with a magnifying glass and start inspecting my lichen laden trees. 

Brussels Lace (Cleorodes lichenaria).

I haven't been bothering with the tiny ones as being new to moth trapping it's all a bit overwhelming, but this one was too stunning to not take a photo of!

Lime-speck Pug (Eupithecia centaureata).

As usual, please tell me if there are any errors!

I shouldn't really be surprised that the larvae of many of the moths I've been catching feed on trees such as sallow (willow), poplar and oak, and also grasses. I have a heavily wooded garden as well as there being loads of trees all around the area, not to mention there is grass everywhere too, and it doesn't all go brown like my lawn on a slope. My orchard which is at the bottom of the hill beside the stream stays green in all but the worst of droughts, and there's plenty of wild grass and long vegetation on the banks of the barely trickling stream and even on the damp leaky side of my pond. The most important thing about this habitat is that it's not being chopped back at the wrong time of year by the council being tidy.

It's very interesting to learn more about the needs of these unknown to me before moths - we care about habitat and providing for the creatures that we see, but not so much the ones we normally don't, due to sheer ignorance! OK when I say we, I mean me..... :-)

* Benefits of Chemotherapy

1. It has knocked my menopausal hot flushes on the head! I was going crazy and seriously considering hormone replacement therapy, but although I get the chemo sweats sometimes, it's nothing like the horrible hot flushes. I hope they don't come back, but even if they do, at least it's one less horrid thing I've had to deal with during this time.

2. For about 20 years I've had an ugly but painless skin condition on one of my elbows called Granuloma Annulaire. I learned to live with it years ago after having various chunks of it chopped out by a dematologist in Geneva** - apparently way back then one of the treatments which sometimes worked (there is no real cure) was found whilst taking biopsies - cutting out a tiny bit of the skin could make it go away, or like for me, it changed the shape, broke up the ugly circles and for several years looked less severe. Some years it looks worse than others, often it nearly disappears in winter, just when you don't care as you are wearing long sleeves anyway, only for it to reappear in full force in the spring. It often appears on both elbows, or both knees or ankles etc so I considered myself lucky. Imagine my horror last year seeing it start to appear on my other elbow!

Well guess what. It's gone! I have rough skin on both elbows that may be due to the skin condition or more than likely the amount of time I have spent over the last six months lying down leaning on them. 

It may come back, but it was pretty surprising when I noticed it had gone! :-) 

** I used to live on the French border by Geneva - I didn't fly there for treatment from England or France! :-)


  1. Good to know you are recovering well and fast Mandy :) Lovely collection here :) ~ Devyani

    1. Thanks for your support, Devyani - nice of you to leave a comment too. Take care xx

  2. At the risk of being boring and repetitive....WOW again. The detail you get on those furry little bodies is amazing.

    Nice to hear of the silver linings...those hot flushes are a nightmare and I hope they don't come back.

    1. Thanks Debrazzawoman - I hope moth posts are not too boring. I have no idea if the average reader would be interested or not (moth trapping friends aside)! Well I have some garden photos and bugs to post next, as the sun was out today and all the critters were back with a vengeance! :-) By the way just read your thank you post which I'll comment on in a mo', as that's one of the reasons for posting the moths - it helps me to remember what they are! Easier than trawling through a photo database. :-)

  3. A wonderful post with some gorgeous photos and a great variety of moths :) So many of those I have never trapped here and probably not likely to!! Great to hear you are enjoying your moths so much :)
    Wish I could help with the Thorn but I find them hard too and only catch the occasional one here. I do know that with August Thorn the outer cross line on the forewing is usually kinked near the leading edge. But have never found that helps that much as mine never keep still for long enough to see!

    Well done on the Svenssons - have checked my Copper Underwings here in past years but never found one so far. Although this year I haven't trapped as many of this species as usual. The trap was full this morning of Large Yellow Underwings and Flounced Rustic and not much else!!!

    Thanks so much for the mention too - that is very kind of you :)

    Pleased to hear that you are getting some benefits to the chemo. Am lucky here in that I never had any side effects from the menopause (unless you count putting on weight in all the wrong places!).

    1. Thanks very much RR! Put the trap out last night and I had what I think were two Large Yellow Underwings but they both flew off as I was putting other moths into my plastic box. Lots of them escaped sadly as there were more little moths which are not so easy to transfer as the bigger ones. Also I was being wary of five hornets! Still I am starting to recognise some of them, although I've just looked up Flounced Rustic and thought I'll probably need years to learn about them, along with the Darts and ones that look so similar! :-)

      As for menopause, you were lucky! The hot flushes hit me worst after the radiotherapy and before the chemo and mostly at night, so I wasn't sleeping well at all. Previous to the treatments I'd been getting intermittent ones.... possibly it was brought on worse by the radiotherapy; come to think of it, I think I read it can affect women by bringing on early menopause and stopping periods too with younger women. Be interesting to see what happens after the chemo ends but I'm enjoying not having them right now. :-)

  4. Lovely selection of moths and I'm glad to hear you're finding some positives from the chemo xx

    1. Thanks very much CT - I need a few positives here and there! :-) xx

  5. More lovely moth photos, I've had my middle sister staying and I showed her your blog and she will now be a regular viewer. My older sister and her hubby are also regular viewers of your blog as they are both keen entomologists.

    Nice that you've found some positives to the chemo and it will soon be over too, brilliant!

    Philippa xx

    1. Aww that's nice, Philippa. Great that there are bug lovers in your family! :-) Yup looking forward to the end of it as the recovery time between the chemo sessions is taking longer and longer - haven't got over the fatigue yet and it starts again on Thursday! Still I don't care as it's the last! xx

  6. Beautiful selection of moths Mandy, Love the Garden tiger , The Dinker moth and the Lobster moth, all three I would love to see. Put my trap out last night, over fifty Yellow Underwings, but feeding on the Buddleia tree was a rather large Red Underwing, stunning moth.

    Glad you are seeing some positive sides to your treatment, I am willing to share my hot flushes and sleepless nights if you were missing them..
    Take care Amanda xx

    1. Thanks Amanda and especially for finding the time to visit and comment! I'd be collapsed in a heap if I was doing what you are. I'll pass on the hot flushes and I have enough sleepless nights anyway!

      You and RR are 'doing well' with the Yellow Underwings!! I had two the other night, but was happy to trap one that you get, a Brimstone. I lost lots of pretty little things the moment I put my hand in under the perplex - they seem more flitty than the bigger moths. xx

  7. I don't know one moth from another Mandy, not a subject I have ever studied like Butterflies, so can't help with ID. Perhaps your skin condition has been zapped by the Chemo.

    1. Neither did I really, Roy, apart from the daytime moths that I see and having studied hawkmoths a bit cos they are fascinating. But it's rather addictive and seems to be a popular pastime in the UK! Cheers. :-)