Tag Archives: celebration

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.

The Earliest Spring Ever!

Last night we had a severe frost in Wicklow, but it seems the plants have decided, for whatever reason, that spring is here to stay. I have never seen anything quite like it. On New Year’s Day I found Bluebells throwing the leaf-litter off and raising their juicy leaves to the sun.

Bluebell leaves …on New Years Day!

And not only were the daffodils up, but irises had poked their blade-like leaves through the soil, and the crocuses were not only well up above ground but some now have flowers on the verge of opening.

A crocus about to blossom, as I photographed it yesterday.

Okay, so maybe you’re thinking these impetuous plants are mistaken: crocuses can sometimes bloom in the snow, as can primroses, and daffodils often make mistakes. Fair enough arguments, but have you ever seen cherry blossom in January? There are certain October-flowering Cherry trees, but not January ones, and the pair of cherries growing out front of the church (opposite the petrol station) in Newcastle village would seem to me to be the typical spring variety. True, they are in sunny areas, but covered in blossoms and being attended by big Bumble Bees. Incredible!

 

One of the blossoming cherries outside the church on Newcastle main street.
A close-up of the beautiful blossoms, with bees in there somewhere.

According to the weather forecasters we are in for another week of cold frosty nights and mostly clear sunny days, so winter is certainly not done with us yet. But spring is here, whatever the weather. And just to end, keep an eye out for the beautiful feather-duster like, aniseed-scented blooms of the Winter Heliotrope. They are in abundance this year, and they have to be as there is so much competition.

Winter Heliotrope flies the flag for winter, while it still can.

And after a great 2012, with the massive successes of Wicklow boxer Katie Taylor and cross-country runner Fionnuala Britton, it seems the very landscape itself has decided to throw a celebratory party. 2013 is off to an awesome start.