Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Moth Whisperer

If you had sat me down a couple of years ago and told me that in 2012 I would find myself waking up at 7am on  a Sunday morning to go and talk to moths I would have to have taken a long good look at my life and try to work out a strategy to best avoid my fate. Yet this morning (and indeed yesterday too) that was exactly what I found myself doing and it felt like the most natural thing in the world. What's more, as with most animals in my life (as my chickens and cat will testify) I've started to anthropomorphise them. The Clouded Drabs are quite clearly unimaginative, dull, obstinate and like most moths that play dead at my slightest touch, a bit thick. However, they are also efficient and tenacious team players - every night that I put my trap out, Cloudy and her 19 brothers and sisters Drab know their mission: get on with the business of filling it up. Once in the trap, their job is to sit perfectly still until I come and nudge them at which point they fall dead allowing me to scoop them up and throw them back in the bushes. They don't know why they do it, but it's not their business to know.

If there's one aptly named family of moths it's the Pugs. These pugnacious little brutes just won't give a guy a break. As soon as you try to place them a little better to take a good picture they're off. To the top of the barn, just high enough to be too high to reach with a chair. And no matter how patient your coaxing you won't be able to get them to come down. They stay there just long enough for you to get a ladder and start climbing and then they're off again. Over to the neighbours. That's what happened to me yesterday with a Double-Striped and I won't be forgetting it in a hurry (in case there are any Pugs out there that might have chanced upon this post - I'm watching you!).

Onto the noble moths. These are the larger moths that include the Hawks and one I caught this morning - an Angle Shades. These are obviously the nobles, the royalty, the chieftains of their tribes. Apart from their size and outfits to prove it, more impressive is their demeanour. Once they are caught, they don't go on fainting fits, they are not quarrelsome, they are patient, acquiescent and accept their fate with dignity. Moth-chiefs, I salute you!

Angle Shades, the King Kamehameha of moths

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