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There’s a tiger in the wood

Wood Tiger

Parasemia plantaginis – Male

You’ve probably gathered I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to butterflies. Well then it’ll come as no surprise that I’m even more so when it comes to moths. However, when I’m out surveying, particularly at Morgans Hill, I quite often see a few day-flying macro moths like this fantastic Wood Tiger Parasemia plantagins but if anything they’ve proved even harder to photograph. One afternoon I saw four of these, yet as soon as I brought my macro lens anywhere near they were off, catching the wind like little kites and then arching through the air 30 or 40 feet at a time. Most of the time I soon lost track of them across the steep terrain. But I guess eventually I had to get lucky and eventually I did. This little male sat still for a split second longer than usual and here’s the result.

I’ve been thinking of investing in my own moth trap. I’ve got a very long, narrow garden with a stream at the bottom where I’ve sited a shed, now well and truly covered with honeysuckle. Moths seem drawn to it, so when I get a minute I’m going to run some power down there so I can run a Skinner trap overnight and see what I’ve caught. It doesn’t harm the moths, all of which can be safely released into the thick undergrowth in the morning. A chap I originally met when I was at art college, Marc Taylor, is coincidentally the county moth recorder for Wiltshire. One evening he gave ARK (Action for the River Kennet) a demonstration at Stonebridge Lane and I must say I found it absolutely fascinating.

Although moths are rather more subtle, I kind of like them all the more for that and slowly but surely I’m beginning to be able to name a few new ones like the Argent and Sable, Mother Shipton, Green Carpet, Speckled Yellow and Latticed Heath to add to the few I already new like the Six-spot Burnet, Clouded Border and the Scarlet Tiger. But with some 20,000 species identified in Britain, I’ve got some way to go.

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