I used to live in what is now called Royal Wootton Bassett. It was just plain old Wootton Bassett when I lived there. But then that was before we were flying back union jack covered coffins from Iraq and Afghanistan. Thankfully most of our troops are back home now.
On sunny days in July I’d often find this tiny moth in my equally tiny courtyard garden basking in the sun. When I had to move home, there it was again in my new garden near Marlborough. Now much as though it would have cheered me no end to imagine it had followed me, perhaps hidden amongst my many books, there had to be a common connection. After giving it some thought I came to the conclusion that it was either attracted to mint or marjoram, or both.
After consulting Chris Manly’s excellent British Moths and Butterflies I discovered that this tiddly little purple-claret moth, which could fit onto your little fingernail, is known as the Mint moth Pyrausta aurata. So that’s sorted that out then. But wait, his description goes on to say that although the larva feed on mints they also feed on marjoram. So it’s both.
If you are interested in British moths then I can also recommend Martin Townsend and Paul Waring’s Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland which is full of the most wonderfully detailed illustrations by Richard Lewington.