Counting down the Top Twenty Moths of 2019

My very good friend Ladybird Farmer, she of the multiple smallholding emoji, was impressed with the last moth blog post and suggested I do a count down of the Top Ten for the year. Well, while I’m holding out for a Merveille du Jour in September and perhaps a December Moth in November, I could have a go at picking out my favourites so far that perhaps highlight the incredible diversity of the 2600 or so Lepidoptera that we see across the British Isles.

Of course, all the ones that I’ve photographed were in our small back garden in a rural, but urbanised village north of Cambridge, so it’s quite a limited range. Nevertheless, there are some stunning moths to see here that highlight very well the fact that the leps really aren’t all drab brown and grey flittery things.

Number 20: The micro moth Lozotaeniodes formosana, known unofficially as the Orange Pine Twist
Number 19: The shield-like Herald, Scoliopteryx libatrix
Number 18: The Peppered Moth, Biston betularia, started an industrial evolution
Number 17: It is impossible to determine whether this a Grey or a Dark Dagger without examining the moth’s genitalia or running its DNA
Number 16: The Chinese Character, Cilix glaucata, is one of several moths that have evolved to camouflage themselves as a glistening dollop of bird muck
Number 15: The Spectacle, Abrostola tripartita, always seems to have its eye on you
Number 14: Angles Shades, Phlogophora meticulosa, of the most delicately marked of moths only one or two showed up in 2019
Number 13: The Brassy Long-horn, Nemophora metallica, this thrashy little micro was on the Cottenham Lode rather than in our garden
Number 12: The Small China-mark, Cataclysta lemnata, a beautifully marked micro
Number 11: White-spotted Pinion, Cosmia diffinis, not a common visitor to Cambridgeshire
Number 10: The Eyed hawk-moth, Smerinthus ocellata, uses pareidolia to face off against predators
Number 9: Buff Arches, Habrosyne pyritoides, a dull name behind a beautifully marked moth that camouflages itself as a hint of flint or perhaps a piece of fool’s gold
Number 8: Female Oak Eggar, Lasiocampa quercus, nothing to do with oaks, it lays lots of large eggs, but the name alludes to the large egg- or acorn-shaped cocoon formed by its larvae hanging from its food plant stems. Didn’t see a male Oak Eggar.
Number 7: Privet Hawk-moth, Sphinx ligustri, the largest moth found in The British Isles, numerous entries in the garden this summer.
Number 6: Puss Moth, Cerura vinula, the enormous “mother” of all the kitten moths. Beautiful grey-white creature with gold and black markings.
Number 5: Emperor, Saturnia pavonia, the UK’s only silk moth, attracted to a pheromone lure during the day, the female’s are almost monochrome and fly at night
Number 4: Sallow Kitten, Furcula furcula, a moth with a scientific tautonym
Number 3: Green Silver-lines, Pseudoips prasinana, some of the most delicate seeming moths are green, or yellow (Yellow-tailed, Yellow Shell, the Emeralds)
Number 2: Red Underwing, Catocala nupta, one of the rarer underwings, Old Lady (Black Underwing) could’ve easily made the grade, as could any of the half a dozen Yellow Underwings, the Copper Underwing, or even the Straw Underwing. The scientific name alludes to something revealed on a wedding night!
Number 1: Buff-tip, Phalera bucephala, the moth that so perfectly emulates a birch twig like this has to be Number 1

I must confess it’s difficult to choose, they’re all wonderful in their own way, all of the Hawk-moth I’ve seen this year are large and quite stunning, the Oak Eggar was a particular highlight almost glowing in the UV, the gentle and ghostly fluttering of Swallow-tailed Moths was a treat as was the likes of the Chocolate-tip turning up, the Iron Prominents, Marbled Beauty, and The Vapourer, which once again Mrs Sciencebase spotted before me. Some of the micros are quite stunning like Pyrausta aurata, Small Magpie, the Small China-mark, Pearl Grass-veneer, Orange=spotted Shoot, and the Bird-cherry Ermine. Even the greys and browns have their own intrigue from the Cabbage to the Turnip, the Pale Mottled Willow to the Mottled Rustic.

You can find my Mothematical Galleries on my Imaging Storm website. If you’re after the raw data, I’ve got the logs online going back to when I started lighting up again this year in late February. They’re here.

Author: bob投注平台

Award-winning freelance science writer, author of Deceived Wisdom. Sharp-shooting photographer and wannabe rockstar.