Monday, 14 November 2016

Butterflies of the night.....

The Scarce Chocolate-tip [Clostera anachoreta] la Hausse-queue fourchue or l'Anachorète
...or moths?
Where we call them moths...
the French for Moths is...
Papillons du Nuit....
literally "Butterflies of the Night"....
a bit of a misnomer, because there are quite a number of moths that are day-flying....
the Hummingbird Hawkmoth and the Mother of Pearl being two that are regularly seen... especially if you grow lavenders or have a Buddleia.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth [Macroglossum stellatarum] le Morro-Sphinx
Mother-of-Pearl [Pleuroptya ruralis] la Pyrale du Houblon...
a micro-moth... also a misnomer...
this is bigger than some 'ordinary' moths!!


Then, there are the Tiger Moths....regularly here we regularly have the Garden Tiger, the Cream-spot Tiger and the Jersey Tiger....all fly night and day. with the Jersey Tiger perhaps edging it as the one to see during daylight... especially in very sunny weather

Cream-spot Tiger [Epicallia villica] l'Écaille villageoise.....
Jersey Tiger [Euplagia quadripunctaria] l'Écaille chinée


I have always liked moths... mainly because of their two types of colour scheme... camouflage or brilliant warning colours.
Most of the day-flying moths are the latter.... the nightbirds go for camo-colours!!
but, you only see these wonders... and I use that word deliberately...
you normally only see them by accident.

Or at night, attracted to your windows....
(when will someone, please, publish a guide to moths from underneath??)

How, though, can you see wonderful nightime moths like these....

Just some of the moths that will be coming to this blog on Mondays!
Beautiful Marbled, Scarce Chocolate-tip, Burnished Brass [f.juncta]
Black Arches, Buff-tip, Lunar Thorn


...you need to bring them to you!!
So, a good way to attract them is to deliberately mimic the "bright-light-in-the-window" process....
the simplest being a strong light shining onto a large white sheet....
effective, certainly.... but with great drawbacks... the moths very rarely stay still and....
you are standing there, at night, giving off carbon dioxide....
and attracting all the mozzies from the locality to where you are!!
Been there, done that, "shoulda-worn-a-beekeepers outfit"!
Not nice...not nice at all.
And they will keep moving, making photography and identification difficult, to say the least.

The better way really, is a trap... a light trap.... as mentioned in the last post.
All moth traps are essentially portable... in that they are quite small...especially in comparison with the white sheet method.
But they need power for the lamp... mains level power!!

I really wanted to find out what we had here by true "papilions du nuit"...
not just the totally random sample of the ones that came to the windows....
so, last year Martin who lives nearby, lent me his aged moth trap...
he's been "mothing" a long time... and his dad had built it for him many moons ago.
Martin's trap is an MV trap... MV means mercury vapour... the gas in the enormous bulb.

Martin's trap...ready to go....
it has about twice the volume of ours
And this is it switched on...
it is so bright, that even though it was only just dusk....
this is the best picture I could get!!

This is powered from the mains, running a transformer....
and is controlled by a choke and a starter... rather like a fluorescent tube....
but everything is bigger and heavier.
And MV bulbs are now not available as of the start of 2017....
so Martin has bulk bought!!
Either that, or get rid of a perfectly serviceable piece of equipment.

But the easy capture of interesting moths that one never sees....
prompted me to buy one for us... but MV traps are no longer available...
so I eventually decided on an extremely portable one that folds away into its own suitcase...
and it was the cheapest, too! Probably because it had nothing that was especially moulded...
it is a 2CV of the "mothing" world.

It, too, runs off the mains...
but the two 20W UV low-energy bulbs can be run off a car battery using a voltage inverter....
that means I can set it up anywhere.... a great advantage here...
I'm not restricted to by the house or just over the bridge into the meadow....
where we, mistakenly, set up Martin's trap...
it is very difficult to sleep by the light of six artificial moons shining in the bedroom window!!

This is what ours looks like... set up for the first time on June 22nd this year.
This is it closer....

The light from our trap is less than half the strength of Martin's...
that means we cannot attract moths from a huge area, so we might miss some exciting ones...
and we cannot compete with strong moonlight.

This is Martin's trap versus a full moon...
the inset is ours at the same exposure!!

But there is an advantage in that we do attract ones that are more local to the trap.... therefore, sampling for this environment is better....
and a 28 day cycle  of dark days sets a routine....
in fact, even though I couldn't start trapping until the Summer had started...
because of the weather...
we are already seeing what species are fairly constant in quantity....
and would act as bat-fodder.

Mondays from now onward will be Moth Day....
at present, that's over four years of Monday posts sewn up!!

5 comments:

Susan said...

Super dooper. Can't wait for Moth Mondays.

Colin and Elizabeth said...

Should be interesting seeing what you catch...

LaPré DelaForge said...

C&E... so far I have photographed and identified around two hundred different species of moth...
some are very pretty... some are almost invisible when they are placed back in their habitat!! On one of the sites I am using for identifying the catches, there is a picture of a moth spread against a lichen covered trunk.... all you can actually see is a slight moth-shaped outline.... and that is because a flash was used!! That IS camouflage!!
The reason for saying four years worth of Monday posts sewn up... is that I think I have still got about 100 moths to identify!!

Susan... mainly I will be doing individuals... but some, like a group of the Footmen, will be done as a group... that is because it allows comparison to be easily made on the post... and a lot of almost identical sage-green winged moths, with white or cream wing edges... and different amounts of in-rolling...
would make for a VERY boring set of posts.
I am starting, next week, with that old favourire... the Garden Tiger.
There will be "chenilles" where I have photos... or they are simple to draw!!

Amelia Frenchgarden said...

I'll look forward to your moths, I have never tried to attract moths and now I think the easiest way to enjoy them is to wait for your posts. I find the thought of identifying 200 moths very daunting. Well done! Amelia

LaPré DelaForge said...

Amelia....I am currently "mothed out"....
I have "to be identified" folders for the Noctuid moths and for the Geometrids....
and one called "Blind Rudolphs" for the ones I have absolutely "no eye deer" of....
all of which need to be worked through....
tonight has been micromoths.... for a break...
tomorrow will be putting some more up on Faune Touraine...
no ident work, as I am going rapidly cross-eyed looking from book to iPad to main screen!
But it is fun and keeps me off the streets!!