The Night of the Moths

A few people have been asking me about the moths which invaded the Stade de France in Paris this evening during the European Cup Final between France and Portugal. I have checked the many, many photos of them available online, and can say with certainty that they are migratory Silver-Y moths (Autographa gamma). They eventually find their way to Ireland, albeit in smaller numbers, and here’s one I photographed feeding on Soapwort (aka Bouncing Beth) a few years ago.:

Note the silver 'Y' mark on each wing, which gives the moth its name.
Note the silver ‘Y’ mark on each wing, which gives the moth its name.

Some media have attempted to account for the swarm by blaming flood lights for being left on last night, but this species flies both day and night and is not particularly attracted to lights of any kind, although they might use them to navigate in darkness. They have already arrived here in Ireland this summer, and more may well be on the way. They swarm out of southern Europe and Africa every year in vast clouds, flying north, and at the end of the summer they fly south again. They are often desperate for water and salts in hot weather encountered en route, and will gladly drink both sweat and tears, of which there was no short supply in the stadium in Paris tonight.

Congratulations to Portugal. I suggest the team adopt a silver ‘Y’ letter as their jersey insignia to commemorate their great historic win on what has been a very unusual night indeed.

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