Monday, 27 September 2010

The Moth-er of all blogs

Before I go any further, let's get one thing straight... I know zilch about moths. 

Some of my fellow bloggers and acquaintances do know lots about moths, probably more than is healthy for them. But mothing is a fairly harmless pastime and, as far as I'm aware, it's not against the law (ok, there's probably an obscure bit of legislation dating from 1572 that hasn't been repealed in the tiny hamlet of Nether Bloggington, but apart from that).

Which isn't to say that I'm not interested in moths, it's just that there's so flippin' many of them to identify, the UK alone has something like 2400 species. Where would I start and have I got sufficient time left before I'm headed towards that Big Light Bulb In The Sky? Hmmm, they do say that folk returning from near death experiences often bang on about an all enveloping white light. It must be the same for moths, which is rather reassuring. I would like to think that whatever deity we meet in the next life is also the deity for all other Earthly lifeforms, because if Heaven's just full of humans, that sounds more like Hell.

Anyway... moths just aren't as convenient an insect to study as, say, er... dragonflies. With your average dragon, there's no need to get up early or stay up late, you can have a bit of a lie-in, a leisurely breakfast, a quick check to make sure it's warm enough and hey presto, Oh look! A dragonfly!

But despite my best efforts, every now and then, I find myself poring over a moth ID guide, trying to identify the latest curious creature to bimble into our home. And they do have some magical names. You'd think that with there being so many of the little blighters, it would all be rather repetitive and boring, but not a bit of it. Picking a page at random, there's Stout Dart and Double Dart (possibly drinking moths, as opposed to the Drinker moth), Cousin German (yes, really!), Autumnal Rustic, True Lover's Knot, Pearly Underwing and Barred Chestnut. This is an insect that knows how to get a person's imagination working in overdrive.

For instance, yesterday, whilst looking for damsels and dragons roosting in the undergrowth, we saw what at first glance looked just like another dying leaf. On closer inspection, it turned out to be this...


a Pink-barred Sallow.

OK, a bit of a girly name which means it's unlikely to get a job as a nightclub bouncer*, but a cracking piece of camouflage for a moth emerging in the Autumn. When it comes to creativity, this deity bloke (or blokess, obviously) certainly knows his/her stuff.

I remember years ago when I saw my first Hummingbird Hawkmoth. It was in the gardens of Upton House in Warwickshire and I stared transfixed at this little bundle of whirring wings flitting about a flowering shrub in front of me. My brain knew it wasn't an actual Hummingbird, but my eyes were saying "Are you sure? It bloody well looks like one, y'know!" I was gutted when we returned a year later and the National Trust gardeners had cut the frigging bush down.

So as much as I don't want to start on moths, they've already started on me and a little bit of me is rather glad.

* Nightclub Bouncer, a strikingly-marked black and white moth with a bow-tie pattern on the thorax**

** OK, I made that up

1 comment:

John said...

Although 'uncertain' of when you would next blog, I 'suspected' when you did it wouldn't be 'drab'