Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Moths are dull........don't you believe it!! (Part one ).

For many people the beauty of moths is something they miss out on. Encounters are limited to the odd individual which gains access to the house , and that's it!

Well, there's certainly more to them than that , which I suspect most people would appreciate should they see some of the more attractive, iconic individuals. Subtle colours, intricate patterns, even intriguing shapes are all exhibited by some of the species we have in the UK. Admittedly some of them are best left to the enthusiasts, as their more subdued colours and patterns dictate more than a little knowledge is needed before determining what species they might be.

As we all know , the majority of moths are nocturnal and, therefore we need a suitable trap into which we can entice them. A variety exist, and without getting technical, they comprise two main types.

This type runs off mains electricity, or can be powered by a generator, and is obviously best suited to being run near to home , a field centre or somewhere similar. Inside can be seen a "supply" of egg boxes under which the moths can seek out some secure nook and cranny.

This type, an Actinic lamp, is far more portable as it is powered by a car battery ( or rechargeable caravan battery in this case ). It means trapping can take place in more out of the way places and provides much more flexibility. In each case the moths can be examined and identified in the morning and then released. An ideal opportunity to involve children.

All the following species have been caught on Islay and are pretty widespread, but not necessarily universal, in their distribution within the UK. To get a real impression of them , click on each photograph to get a full screen view and better appreciate the tremendous colours, the shapes or the patterning.

The first, an Elephant Hawk Moth, shows off some really subtle colours, followed by a Garden Tiger Moth illustrating the intensity of contrasting colours and pattern designs which can arise and, finally, a Puss Moth, showing off an intricate web of lines in the patterning on its wings.

Admittedly these are examples of some of our larger sized moths that show off their features to best effect, they by no means eclipse the beauty of many of the smaller individuals. So, if any of this grabs your imagination, keep an eye open for one of the public events run at your local Country Park or Nature Reserve or take a look at the Butterfly Conservation web site which gives details of events being held by their local groups.

In the second part I'll outline some of the fascinating results which have been accomplished and that have emerged from the moth recording schemes which have been operating in the past few years.

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