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26 May 2014

26 May 2014 – From Fairies to Giants

(Micropterix calthella)

Not fly-by-nights so these delicate little moths were not trapped by the lure of the mercury vapour lamp, but it was the pollen of the daytime buttercup that attracted them.  There is a splash of purple at the base of the fore-wing so I am reasonably sure they must be Micropterix calthella {‘little wing’ that feeds on marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)}.  This particular group of moths was spotted just outside the grounds of Shandy Hall on our walk with Jeremy Purseglove last Saturday, so they don’t really qualify for the species list. However, I am certain that I have seen them on the marsh marigold in the pond in the quarry (without realising they were moths) so I anticipate confirming their presence next year.

Lime Hawk-moth in Museum Gardens, York

Delicate marginalia of the moth world are one thing but the photograph of the striking Lime Hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae) only reinforces the power this moth must have exerted over its nominee (Hübner) in 1819.  He named it after Mimas, a giant who waged war on the gods but was defeated by Hephaestus (who never did things by halves) and buried him under Vesuvius.  This Lime Hawk was discovered this morning in the York Museum Gardens trap – our parallel recording-station.

Lime Hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae) illustration.

The illustration shows the adult and the caterpillar with its ‘horn’ just visible.