Tag Archives: night

Mothy Nights in July

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:

The Great Oak Beauty (Hypomecis robararia) is a large and somewhat variable species of moth. 

The following is the Common Emerald (Hemithea aestivaria), which is slightly smaller:

 

The Silver-Y (Auographa gamma), below, is a famous species which flies both day and night, migrating from southern Europe and even sub-Saharan Africa into Europe every year, and possibly even some individuals fly all the way back again. They come to flowers in large numbers and seem to fulfill the role of bees at night.The Mother of Pearl moth (Pleuroptera ruralis) gets its name from the nacre-like sheen on its wings. It is the size and shape of a small butterfly.The ultra-white, angel-like White-plumed Moth (Pterophorus pentadactyla) resembles a fairy when seen glowing in the darkness of a summer evening. Occasionally they come to light, but mostly fly about lawns. The Common Footman (Eilema lurideola) is a small moth, but not tiny, and it gets its name from its appearing to wear the neat liveried uniform of a coachman.The Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata) is a very handsome species of carpet moth, moths which have beautiful carpet-like patterns on their wings. Buff Arches (Habrosyne pyritoides) with slight damage to left wing probably caused by a predator.

This is one of the variations of the Mottled Beauty (Alcis repandata).

 

 

Super Full Moon Eclipse

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:

The super full moon before the eclipse.
The super full moon before the eclipse.

A shadow then began to cross the moon diagonally from upper left to lower right.

The moon slowly begins to dim as the Earth crosses between it and the sun, blocking out the light.
The moon slowly begins to dim as the Earth crosses between it and the sun, blocking out the light.

Soon the shadow almost crossed the entire moon surface.

Only a tiny sliver of the moon's face remains in the light.
Only a tiny sliver of the moon’s face remains in the light.
The Moon is entirely eclipsed and what little of it can be seen is tinged rusty red in colour.
The Moon is entirely eclipsed and what little of it can be seen is tinged rusty red in colour.

 

Now the top left corner slowly begins to brighten as the shadow of the Earth continues to move.
Now the top left corner slowly begins to brighten as the shadow of the Earth continues to move.
The bright white light bends across the moon's surface and appears to glow, as the red light of the shadowed moon begins to fade.
The bright white light bends across the moon’s surface and appears to glow, as the red light of the shadowed moon begins to fade.

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.

The white light made for a very bright contrast with the red of the 'blood moon'.
The white light made for a very bright contrast with the red of the ‘blood moon’.

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.

Mothy Nights

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):

A beautiful female Buff Ermine flying low above meadow grasses early on a June evening.
A beautiful Buff Ermine flying low above meadow grasses early on a June evening.

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:

A beautiful Buff Ermine at rest - the fur coat-like hairs around their bodies give them the name 'ermine', as does the colour. Ermine is the white or pale winter coat of the stoat, which was used to make fur coats.
A beautiful Buff Ermine at rest – the fur coat-like hairs around their bodies give them the name ‘ermine’, as does the colour. Ermine is the white or pale winter coat of the stoat, which was used to make fur coats.

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:

A lovely Small Magpie moth in bright daylight.
A lovely Small Magpie moth in bright daylight.