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11 July 2019

11 July 2019 – A Footman Awaits

Common Footman (Eilema lurideola)

’In early use, a runner in attendance upon a rider of rank;… a servant who ran before his master’s carriage, called more fully a running footman.’  The Oxford English Dictionary also has ‘A man-servant in livery employed chiefly to attend the carriage and wait at table.’

It is the second definition that perhaps gives rise to the common name of this family of moths – enrobed in livery as it might seem to appear.  The way the lead-coloured wings wrap around the abdomen bring to mind the silhouette of a liveried servant.  If disturbed this moth will throw itself hither and thither in short spasms of movement but rarely takes flight.  If undisturbed it can remain in the same position all the day long.

Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis)

A Burnished Brass is always a welcome sight to the garden.  Photographing it on this colourful egg-box gives it a rather different atmosphere.  This moth has two varieties – one where the burnished pattern is divided clearly (as shown above) and the second where the glinting pattern covers the whole ring.  There is a Slender Burnished Brass as well but this is a rare immigrant.  Feeding on nettles it is useful and helpful addition to the garden.

Parornix species

A long time was spent trying to identify this very small visitor.  The attitude the moth adopts when resting and the white markings on the wings seem so distinctive that it surely should appear in one of the field-guides, or on one of the moth-blogs.  But I couldn’t find it.  Charlie Fletcher told me that this family Parornix can only be clearly identified by dissection and then I remembered we had seen this moth before – just here to be exact – when Jane Wu our UPenn intern recorded how hard it was to be certain which family it belonged to.

Beautiful Hook-tip (Laspeyria flexula)

For some reason this moth seems to embody an idea of excellent design.  The sweep of the wings, the placing of the double spots, the earth coloured tinge to the tip of the hook all combine to give the observer a sense of satisfaction.The Beautiful Hook-tip was one of 23 species that were transported to Carlton Miniott primary school today for years 1 and 2 to have a closer look at moths.  Each species was persuaded into a plastic tube with an identifying tag giving each their name and the children seemed to find the whole experience interesting.  Now, returning to Shandy Hall, it is time to set them all free.