Today was very exciting. Apart from the work bit. But before that started in earnest, I went out to check the moth trap. Generally speaking, this year has been extraordinarily poor for mothing. It rains buckets, the wind howls, all the moths are either dead or hiding. My moth notebook has a few entries for March, and then it says "then it rained for a month". There are a few entries for the end of May, and then nothing until about a week ago. Partly this is six weeks of solid rain, but mainly it's because my middle daughter - Pie, in case you had forgotten - cycled into the moth trap, and then dropped the bike on it. The handlebars went straight through the bulb and continued on straight through the plastic lid. I wasn't impressed, and there were many tears. Pie cried too.
I thought about sourcing a new bulb, which wouldn't have been too difficult, but then discovered that the trap type had been discontinued and I wouldn't have been able to get a new lid and funnel. I vacillitated for a month, thought a lot about gaffer tape, and then splurged on a super-duper Robinson-type trap. And let me tell you, boy is it super duper! Yesterday evening was warm, humid, cloudy and calm, and in the morning, there was this!
This falls into the "most-wanted" category. And the "nearly spill my tea all over the moth trap" category. It's an Elephant Hawk-moth, and it is amazing. Last year we caught a Small Elephant Hawk-moth, which is rarer, but not quite as cool. Mainly it's because this one is bigger, and in the world of mothing it's a very simple equation. Whacking great enormous = amazing, tiny small nondescript = shit. I've been hoping for one of these for some time, but 2012 didn't seem to be the likely year. How wrong I was. Although the weather last night was pretty much ideal, I hadn't thought that there would be much about other than drowned caterpillars as the preceding weeks have been abysmal. Maybe that doesn't matter to moth caterpillars, perhaps they can swim? I've not seen many butterflies this year, maybe their caterpillars can't?
I emptied the trap after the children had gone to school, so unfortunately there was no double for Muffin. I did however keep it in the fridge for them to play with when they got back, and so all three of them got to hold it and stroke it. If this doesn't teach the kids an appreciation for the magic of wildlife, I'm not sure what will. They were utterly enthralled though, so I have high hopes.
* maybe next time