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Friday, 31 July 2015

Need help with IDing these moths

A continuation of yesterday's post about moth trapping (here's a quick link back to the post). 

Now I have a question to ask you mothy people. I received some plastic boxes and tubes to put the moths in, but they are quite small and some of these moths are big, and many flap like crazy no matter their size. I did put them all in the fridge to cool down and only took out one box or tube at a time to photograph the moths, but I found they were harming their wings which is quite apparent when you look at what is left inside the boxes - loads of scales and hairs. Some of the moths featured here look like they have lost a lot of scales too, and I feel really bad about it. 

I wondered what you do? I was thinking about using some of the plastic containers that I use for freezing food, which are big enough that the moths can flap without harming their wings, but still small enough to put in the fridge to chill them out a bit, if necessary. 

As for these eggs, they were laid by Mrs Oak Eggar and they haven't hatched yet but I will put them out today on some bramble leaves which are touching the ground, but I expect the eggs will just roll off. I have read that they may not be viable when laid like this anyway. It was nice to see them though - aren't they pretty! 

OK the first moth I need help with. I know it's a Thorn, but it looks more to me like a September Thorn than an August Thorn, but it was photographed on 22nd July.... however I see from the Hants Moths 'Flying tonight' posts that the September Thorn can be seen last week of July (how confusing is that?!). 

By the way apologies for my filthy looking fingernails - I thought they were clean!!! Also I haven't bothered with the Latin names as I'm not even sure what the moths are. I'll add the Latin later if I get some definite IDs. 

Edit - it's an August Thorn (Ennomos quercinaria).

This cute little moth looks like a pale version of the Clouded Border, but they seem to come in variations of colour and also markings. 
Edit - this is a Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata).

This next one is an I haven't a clue moth. But interestingly the two photos were taken with different cameras and look at the colour difference! The top pale one was taken with the Canon Powershot SX50, the bottom one with the Canon 600D, both set on the same colour setting, both with pop up flashes without any diffusion.

Edit - this could possibly be another Thorn moth.

I wondered if this might be a Knot Grass? I see plenty of their larvae here.
Edit - yes most likely a Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis).

Possibly a Dark Arches?
Edit - yes it's a Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha).

This one belongs in the I don't have a clue category - sorry I haven't got a photo of it with its wings open.
Edit - it's a Peacock moth (Macaria notata).

No idea either.
Edit - possibly a Small Dusty Wave (Idaea seriata).

Sallow Kitten who has lost a lot of its markings?
Edit - either a Sallow Kitten (Furcula furcula) or a Poplar Kitten (Furcula bifida).

This by the way, is another reason why I decided to buy the moth trap now and not next year. Keith came home from a cycle ride with some caterpillar photos for me to ID - the first was an Oak Eggar but it quickly got forgotten when I saw this one. I didn't know what it was but knew it was something special! A quick look in my insect book which has caterpillars as well as moths and I found it straight off. Not that I am likely to see the moth this year, it's too late now. But HUGE excitement to know these guys are around in my neighbourhood. This was crossing the road that runs next to the field next to my veggie patch. K did wait until it got to the grass verge before cycling off, by the way. :-)

What is it? Why, it's the larva of an Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia). So it got me all excited and thinking about moths, and now look where I am. There is no going back..... :-))))))))

Thursday, 30 July 2015

First experience of moth trapping!

I know I said I was going to wait until next year to get a moth trap, but during my break from chemo whilst feeling a lot better, and seeing what Amanda from The Quiet Walker blog was catching with her recently purchased trap which is the same one I was thinking about, I thought 'oh what the hell, I'm getting one now!'. And so I spent the last day of my break (last Weds) photographing and learning a lot about moths.

It's taken me this long to sort through the photos (not helped by the chemo getting its own back on me for daring to take a break) - I brought about 45 moths indoors to look at/photograph so had several hundred photos! I left many smaller ones and drab ones sheltering in the egg boxes in the potting shed and encouraged them out at dusk. There must have been about 100 moths which really surprised me. The most numerous moths were what I think are Common and Scarce Footman, but I didn't get a photo of either as they flew off as soon as I tried to take a pic! But being shallow ;-) I was far more interested in the big and/or colourful moths.....

I'll be adding a second post with my unidentified or not sure moth pictures in the hope you guys can help me with ID, and I have a few questions too. 

This first time I put the trap here near the potting shed where I could run electricity out and the veg patch with all the flowers in is behind where I am standing taking the picture. There are no trees particularly close and the next time I'm going to put it under trees in a different place to see if I get some different moths. 

This trap is the Skinner trap with twin 30w Actinic bulbs which cost me £213 total including a moth book and some specimen boxes and tubes for putting the moths in, and P&P to France was £25, which I thought was pretty reasonable, given it's £12.50 within the UK. I bought it from Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies.

After photographing the moths I put them into a big plastic box with a mesh lid, which is the one I used for my pupating Swallowtails, and at dusk we went around the garden putting the moths outside. A number escaped into the living room whilst photographing them, so we spent a couple of days catching them and putting them out!

Not surprisingly, there were moths on the outside of the box and in the grass all around it too.

This was the biggest excitement and a moth I have longed to see for years - an Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor). There were two of them in the box and now I just have the larva to see. I'm not giving info about each individual moth but if you click on the link it will take you to an info page.

And another hawkmoth! At first I thought this was a Poplar Hawkmoth but then I saw the eyes. This is an Eyed Hawkmoth (Smerinthus ocellata) and you can see why in the first photo. The third photo is the mesh on top of the large box where I put them after photographing - I was trying for some better photos of the hawkmoths outside but the light was too dull and they were flapping their wings a lot. I love the curvy abdomen.

It took me a while to ID this one which is quite a large moth but not as large as the Oak Eggar which follows this one. It doesn't appear in either of my books but eventually I realised it was probably part of the Lasiocampidae family, so googled that - et voila, up came my moth. It's a Plum Lappet (Odonestis pruni) and I love its hairy legs. 

I met this moth last year as it flew inside my house but I mistakenly identified it as a Grass Eggar (I blame the photos on google.....). It's a female Oak Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus) and she's really quite a big girl. I've met the male outside and they fly during the day but the females fly at night - yet I guess they find each other somehow.... :-)

This was another squeal with excitement moth as I've wanted to see a Buff Tip (Phalera bucephala) for ages, as I've found their caterpillars here several times. They are one of the most gorgeous moths and so well camouflaged when on a tree, as they look like little twig stubs. There were four of them in the trap and they were the most laid back of moths, never flapping, never moving, not remotely bothered when I opened up their wings like in the photo below. In fact at dusk they had to really be encouraged to budge!

A smaller moth but very pretty, this is a Rosy Footman (Miltochrista miniata). I was fascinated to read that their larvae feed on lichen on trees, which I hadn't heard of before.

This one foiled me for a while; if it had opened its wings up I might have guessed the family. When I did find out what it was, I wasn't too surprised as I've seen similar red legs and the hairy reddish underneath before when I found a Garden Tiger in my veg patch. This is a Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa) and it's unusual because tiger moths are usually very colourful and showy. But sometimes you have to look beyond the wings for the colourful, showy bits.

The only really green moth which I trapped is a continental species, the Orache Moth (Trachea atriplicis). Some of the larval foodplants are weeds in my veg patch.

Another one with a hint of green - in fact this was one of my favourite moths which I hadn't met before. I love its green furry top and stripey socks! It took me a while to ID this one as so many pictures in books are just looking down on the wings, rather than seeing them from different angles. It's a Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe).

This is an Oak Hook-tip (Watsonalla binaria).

First time I've seen a Buff Ermine (Spilarctia luteum) although I am familiar with various Ermine moths of the white variety. It's really rather beautiful!

I got the ID for this from Amanda's posts so it's either a Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) or a Dark Dagger (Acronicta tridens). Apparently you have to examine their genitalia to tell the difference, although on the UK Moths site it looks like the Dark Dagger has circular spots mid forewing which this one doesn't, which doesn't make a lot of sense. I've seen the larvae of both species in the garden.

This one I may have identified from Ragged Robin's posts but I can't remember! I believe it's a Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria).

I believe this is a Poplar Grey (Acronicta megacephala).

I'd heard the Yellow Tail (Euproctis similis) moth played dead and it does that very well! It ought to be careful when lying on the floor though as I found one that was actually very much alive and I could have thrown it in the rubbish bin or out the window if I hadn't been interested to look at it closer - luckily for it I had already looked at the one in the moth box the day before so I was aware of what it did. However it's possible this is a Brown Tail (Euproctis chrysorrhoea) but I think I also had one with a more yellow tail in the trap.... it's easy to get confused!

I've seen this Peppered moth (Biston betularia) on various blog posts and was aware of it anyway because of its amazing evolution, where a darker form evolved to camouflage itself on soot darkened tree trunks during the industrial revolution - you can read more about it on the link above. However it's good to see the light form as you know you live in a clean environment where the moth can camouflage itself on lighter coloured tree bark covered in lichens (not surprising here in the countryside really)!

Last but not least, a Silver Y moth (Autographa gamma), which are (sometimes) seen during the day nectaring, so I have photographed them before many times.

I also had two Jersey Tiger moths (Euplagia quadripunctaria) in the trap, but as I see them during the day and have taken tons of photos of them over the years, I didn't bother!

Next post will contain the not sure about moths which is shorter than this post, you'll be glad to know! Also if I've got my IDs wrong please tell me. I've enjoyed trying to ID moths myself as you learn so much more that way, but it can be very time consuming.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A mini break from chemo which meant some days out at last!

I have finally felt well enough to have a few trips out this last week. I explained how I had negociated an extra two week break with my Oncologist when I saw him last in this post here a few weeks back. My new anti nausea drugs worked really well so I continued to eat during the last chemo session with no nausea, and have continued to eat well and have done lots of cooking during this time.

My brother came over from England and we've had three meals out, two of which were in scenic places where we had some walks around and watched the wildlife and for me it was absolutely magic to have this opportunity to get out and see some different parts of the countryside other than the same old route to the hospital! I've still felt very tired at times as I get bouts of energy, make the most of it doing a bit of gardening (or going out) but then crash out and need some down time sleeping or just resting, reading in bed. But this is still tons better than before! Chemo starts again on Thursday but guess what, finally I have put some weight on - about 5 pounds/2.5 kg, which is exactly what I wanted, as I was so worried about the weight loss and weakness and how on earth I was going to get through the rest of the chemo sessions. Now I've only got 5 more sessions to go and feel refreshed and ready to face the grindstone again. Even if I lose some weight again at least I shouldn't get any worse than before.

Our first trip out last week was to a restaurant we discovered last year when my brother was over. For anyone in this part of Brittany it's called Le Col Vert on the lake at Hédé. They serve interesting food - some Asian and African dishes as well as some Tex Mex ones. My brother and I had fajitas - I must say this is the first time in my life I have managed to finish an entire portion of fajitas, tortillas and all! My appetite is quite amazing at the moment. You'll see that in all the food I've photographed in this post. :-)

There are a lot of photos because I decided to put the two trips out together.

My brother and his fajitas - yes I ate all that!

Le Col Vert at Hédé.

A rather scruffy front garden of a cottage looking great
because of all the self seeded Hollyhocks in it!

There wasn't a lot of bird life on the lake apart from this Great White Egret
(Ardea alba) - don't think I've ever seen one this far north before!

Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).

Spotted Longhorn Beetle (Rutpela maculata) on a bramble flower beside the lake.

Interesting green Sawfly (Rhogogaster viridis).

Thick-Legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis).

Seven-Spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata).

Black-tailed Skimmer, male (Orthetrum cancellatum).

Les Onze Ecluses at Hédé-Bazouges - there are 11 locks here.

Lock Keeper's House, there seemed to be one of these houses for every couple of locks!

My brother and me.

and with Keith (aka my OH).

Another lake we walked beside and got to hear Reed Warblers here,
another species we rarely see in Brittany. We don't find many lakes
which are accessible to the public, let alone ones with reed beds.

Sunday we headed for the coast to our favourite spot at Port Mer. I've written tons about this place already as around the corner is the headland known as la Pointe du Grouin full of wildflowers where I love to go butterfly spotting! If you want to see photos from sunnier days look at the tag at the bottom of the post and that'll take you to previous posts. We were lucky as although it was quite overcast, it was warm and the sun seemed to come out when we were on the headland so there were plenty of butterflies about. But first, we ate. :-)

I had a fish and shellfish dish with choucroute underneath, a bit of an odd mix but very nice.

I was thinking of having a paddle in the sea but by the time we had finished lunch the tide was way out revealing a rather slimy green seaweedy area, also it just started to spit with rain! But by the time we'd driven the five minutes round to the headland, then spent 15 minutes trying to find somewhere to park (bloody tourists!), the sun had come out.

Up on the headland at Pointe du Grouin; lots of wildflowers here.

Saw my first Small Copper of the year!

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas).

There were two of these lizards beside the Semaphore Station.
I think they are Common Wall Lizards (Podarcis Muralis)
but I'm not 100% sure.

I never tire of seeing Swallowtails (Papilio machaon)! There is tons of wild fennel
growing here which is one of the host plants, although I've never
spotted one of their caterpillars on the plants.

Wild Fennel, Yarrow, Grasses and a partial view of the Semaphore Station.

I was so happy to spot my favourite and most tiny of Skippers,
the Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon). This is the male which has just
a faint hint of the markings that are prominennt on the female.

Female Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon).
These guys are tinier than Small Skippers and are oh so cute!

A view over the island (Île des Landes) which is a bird reserve.

Another view with wildflowers and rocky islets.

I'm finishing off with four photos of what I ate at our favourite all you can eat Chinese buffet. I ate four courses.... forgot about taking a photo of the first one until I'd already scoffed the prawns.... I still can't believe that I can eat this much food!!!

First course - Thai salad and prawns.

2nd course, tempura prawns, crab claws, squid rings and a spring roll.

Main course, various dishes!

And a strange mix of Chinese desserts....
I love lychees but I brought the cookie and the 'nougat'
(peanut and sesame seed chewy stuff; it's wonderful) home but ate it a few hours later!