Apologies in advance, for this post is unashamedly about moths. Or rather, one particular Moth. As usual the actinic trap was set up in the garden, but the weather didn't look or feel particularly mothy. What the hell, you never know. A reasoned approach.
I've been delegating the trap-emptying of late to Muffin. He enjoys this very much, and usually by the time I stumble downstairs, he is ready with a small box of pots with moths in, many of them already identified. A normal morning conversation with Muffin could easily go something like this:
Me: Anything in the trap?
Muffin: Nah, not much. A couple of Dark Arches, a Heart and Dart, a Scalloped Oak and some kind of Tortrix.
Start them young eh? The other advantage is of course that I can laze around in bed whilst the hard work is done by someone else. And this is what I was doing this morning when I was awakened by high-pitched screams of "Daddy!" from the garden. Really quite loud screams, loud enough to also wake up Pie, which takes some doing. My befuddled brain considered two possibilities; That he had been stung by something vicious that had got into the trap, or that there was a good 'un in there. Thankfully it was the latter, and he had hit the Jackpot!
I made it down the stairs just as he came steaming in from the garden shouting "Small Elephant Hawkmoth!!!!!" at the top of his voice. He hadn't even looked at the book, but I didn't doubt him for a second, and as, shaking, he proudly handed me the potted prize, I knew he would remember this for a long time. The moth is a thing of beauty, and a first for the garden, in fact a first for the whole family, anywhere. It immediately usurps Scarce Silver Lines as the best ever garden moth, and may even be twitched by various members of the East London Moth-lovers Organisation (ELMO) tonight. I was very careful photographing it lest it do a runner. Utterly superb.