Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Things that go "BONK" in the night!

We've been amazed recently by things hitting the windows of an evening.... in this first post I'll concentrate on the moths [Papillons du Nuit].
The most exciting was a Giant Peacock Moth [Saturnia pyri] Grand-Paon-de-nuit which visited on the 11th... absolutely huge, it was at least 15cm [3"] across....

Now that's more my size of prey!

They don't normally have this sparkle, do they?
Hey, Mum... have you seen this!
The cat's heads and the Fox Moth give scale to this magnificent moth. had the full attention of the cats... but was very difficult to photograph... it wouldn't stop flying around.
Most of the other moths have been far more sedentary... settling for long periods.
But it did eventually settle for a moment.... and I got a lovely shot of it on our step.

The step is 27cms left to right.
This male is at the North of its range... it is, like most of the Saturniidae born without mouthparts, so is on the way out the moment it emerges from the pupal case. The young feed on Blackthorn [Prunus spinosa] Epine Noire or Prunelle of which we have plenty, as well as Ash and various other trees.
I found the remains of another that had probably fed a bat, by the Mairie in Grand Pressigny - a full hindwing and a few shreds of the others. [27/05/12 - Also a front wing by our back door... the front rib of which is constructional strength steel.... by the feel of it. The colours of the two wings are much faded when compared with these pix, too.]

A second member of the Saturniidae that has been around is the Fox Moth [Macrothylacia rubi] Bombyx de la ronce... we get loads of these. They really are daft creatures... laying eggs on our doors like the Emperor Moth on our window [blogged about here  and one that Susan wrote about here]... the titchy caterpillars have to cross three metres of bare calcaire! An adult female can be seen in [above pic] which then went on to start laying much to the amazement of our RonRon as she had noticed a male that was still trying to mate... so she tried to separate them...

What's going on here?
That can't be right!
[the female is the lower one and the eggs are
the pale dots on the door frame beneath her.]
Better separate them then...?
fortunately there was glass in the way, as I think what she had on her mind was a bit more permanant than "Go away!" A mouth full of moth wing scales... yuck!

Another visitor was an Eyed Hawkmoth [Smerinthus ocellata] Sphinx Demi-Paon...

...we usually have our attention drawn to where the 'bonking' is coming from by the cats!!
This was no exception... RonRon the 'scientist' made a mad dash across the tops of the work surfaces to the kitchen window... before being told off... but by the time I'd managed to get the camera and get outside, it had moved to the lounge window... lower and more convenient for photography.

You can see here the eye is just visible...

Eyed Hawkmoth female.

This and the Poplar Hawkmoth have a strange wing profile.
and after taking a picture to show the upper wings better...
I risked holding the wings open to show the eyes more clearly....
Still not perfect, but I didn't want to damage her!

Surprisingly, she didn't object!!

As mentioned before, we get lots of 'night visitors' and here are a few more in no particular order!

Lunar Thorn or Purple Thorn moth [Selinia spp]
The same Lunar Thorn or Purple Thorn moth [Selinia spp],
a couple of ichneumon flies [Ophion luteus & Lissonota setosa] and a micromoth.
Ichneumon fly [Ophion luteus /Ophion sp.]
An Art Deco micromoth and some more night visitors including an ichneumon.
Moth in a smoking jacket!
Peach Blossom Moth [Thyatira batis] La Batis
The next night visitors post will be on beetles.... things that really go BONK on the glass, floor, lampshade, etc...etc...etc!


GaynorB said...

Fantastic photographs with a really interesting post. I'll be on the lookout to see whether these live further up (or is it down?) the Aigronne.

GaynorB said...

1 should be ! !!!!

Susan said...

What a great selection. I'm envious of the Eyed Hawkmoth. I've had Poplar Hawks here, but not seen the Eyed.

There's no saying your Ophion is luteus, btw. There's about 8 species here and impossible from photos as far as I know.

I've seen a photo or an illustration of that moth in a smoking jacket somewhere before, but can't remember where so I can't tell you what it is.

Pollygarter said...

Susan, I found the moth last night... it is a Peach Blossom Moth [Thyatira batis] La Batis... but it was very late and I wasn't going to turn this machine on!! And I am aware that there are a lot of very similar Ophions but I've only got Chimera-innery [as you know]so I'll use that name! [But I've put sp. for you]

Gaynor... I think it is UP when looking/going towards the source [as in up the Thames] and DOWN towards the mouth or confluence.
And I think WOW1 does very nicely, actuerly!
Tim [in the Biblio]

Niall & Antoinette said...

Blimey!! that's a big moth with beautiful markings! Lovely photo. Are we likely to get them here up on the ridge or do they prefer your riverine environment?
If it had been at one of our windows I suspect Katinka would have dug her way through the glass!!

Tim said...

I found the remains in the middle of GP, well away from river or tree [on the way to the butchers actually].... so probably anywhere is likely.

Jean said...

Great photos, love the ones with the cats !!

Susan said...

The Giant Peacocks seem to be out and about at the moment. Several people have mentioned to me they've had them.

Vagabonde said...

I saw a comment on your cats in the blog Chez Charnizay and being a cat person I came to have a look. Your cats are so pretty and I can see how they would be excited to see these huge moths. Earlier this week when we visited our daughter in Memphis, Tennessee, who has 3 cats we kept looking at them wanting to jump on birds from the window glass. She placed a bird feeder outside and we counted at least 35 birds eating seeds – the cats were wild wishing to get to them!