The warm temperatures and drought (which have lasted two months in many parts of Wicklow and caused massive gorse fires) have also encouraged many species of butterflies, but even more species of moths, including some very big ones, such as the Northern Eggar (Lasiocampus quercus f. callunae ), a subspecies of the smaller Oak Eggar (L. quercus). This truly is a huge moth, and before now I last saw one all the way back in the early 1990s. This one is the female, which is the largest and more colourful of the sexes. Here is a video which shows the power and size of this moth, which is one of the largest in Europe:
Here is a still of the female, showing her details best:
The male of this species is smaller and darker than the female, but is otherwise almost identical. And here are other beautiful moths encountered in the last few days:
In the early hours of this morning we had a super full moon, which is when the moon is much closer to earth than usual, making it appear bigger. And, as most readers will know, we also had a full eclipse of the moon, the first of a super full moon since 1982 apparently. This is how it looked from Wicklow, in a series of photos I took over the few hours of the eclipse:
A shadow then began to cross the moon diagonally from upper left to lower right.
Soon the shadow almost crossed the entire moon surface.
Gradually the re-emerging of the moon becomes more spectacular, but the eclipse is drawing quickly to and end and soon the moon will be as it was before the eclipse.
In the summer of 2018 we are to have another lunar eclipse, but apparently it will be very early in the evening on one of our long July days so it might be some time before the right conditions occur again. Last night was a cool (3.5 degrees Celsius) and clear cloudless night so I was a very lucky eclipse photographer indeed.
With such sunny long days it might seem a little strange to be talking about night creatures, but the long drawn out twilights of late June are the best time to see moths. There absolutely hundreds of species in Wicklow, and you don’t even need a flashlight to watch them as they appear very soon after sunset and the light is usually good enough to see in for an hour-and-a-half after sunset. A very handsome and noticeable moth which appears in the twilight is this one, the Buff Ermine (Spilosoma luteum):
These moths often rest for days in one place and are particularly noticeable on walls near windows where they are attracted to the light. Here is another photo of the same individual, after it had come to rest on a blade of grass:
In this case the moth is a female, which you can tell by her straight ribbon-like antennae. Males have feather-like antennae which are used to find females in the dark by following their pheromone trails.
Some moths are not so easily photographed. An extremely common species in Wicklow is the Small Magpie moth (Eurrhypara hortulata), which can easily be disturbed in the undergrowth by day, but which flies very fast an erratically and will flee if you get too close. To make matters worse they usually perch upside down on the undersides of leaves. But here’s a decent shot I managed to get in daylight: