Last night was a better night for moths – cloudy, warmish and not much in the way of a moon, or at least not over Coxwold. This morning at 6am there were four Garden Tiger moths, four Poplar Hawks, three Brimstones, Silver Ys, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwings, enough Common Footmen to staff a palace and Muslin Footmen in abundance. As a bonus there were some even more special: the significant 169th species to be identified at Shandy Hall, a Large Emerald (Geometra papilioneria), a Scalloped Oak (Crocalis elinguaria), an Acleris forsskaleana (new species), a Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis) and a Drinker (Euthrix potatoria).
The Scalloped Oak takes its Latin name from the fact that it has no means of feeding as it is elinguis, speechless, without a tongue. The crocalis refers to the moth’s yellow colour. The Drinker is a favourite of mine. The caterpillar likes to sample the morning dew (the Latin name means ‘hairy water drinker’) and when this moth is preparing for flight, its wings beat so furiously and with such intensity that, should you be carrying it on your finger, the vibrations are quite disconcerting. A little powerhouse – and remarkably like a hedgehog in profile.
The Large Emerald is gloriously green and sedate and unruffled. Its resting position is so like that of a butterfly that it always seems about to flit away - but it doesn’t. It just stays still all the day and waits for tonight’s release.