Tag Archives: species

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.

Moth Weather

Rain arrived yesterday, and we’re due to have a lot more over the next few days, but the moths love it. There have been very few moths around this year due to the protracted winter, and then the very dry sunny days of the last few weeks. Moths generally like it quite humid, which is why quite a few appeared at my window last night.

Brimstone Moth - Opisthograptis luteolata
Brimstone Moth – Opisthograptis luteolata

The Brimstone Moth can usually be seen flying along hedgerows on the darker side of twilight, which is around 10pm at night at the moment, on a cloudy evening. They frequently come to light. There is also a Brimstone butterfly, but we don’t have that in Wicklow, as it preferes limestone land, and Wicklow is almost entirely acidic.

Garden Carpet - Xanthorhoe fluctuata
Garden Carpet – Xanthorhoe fluctuata

The Garden Carpet is one of the commonest species in Wicklow, and can often be found flying by day for short distances, before hiding under leaves. Both of the moths above are about the same size, roughly covering the area of a two-Euro coin being typical medium-sized moth species.


The First Hover Fly of Spring

Last Saturday we had a brief snowfall which thawed within hours, but a few days beforehand I came across my first hoverfly of the year, and then only a couple of days ago got a really nice shot of the same species in my garden, on a blooming viburnum. Now, this species is always the first in my garden, but there is something unusual about it – it seems to be Meligramma trianguliferum, a species which has never before been recorded in Ireland. In fact, there is little else it can be, as the distinctive triangular abdominal markings give it its name. Anyhow, until further notice, the first hover flies of spring are out there right now.

Apparently the female Meligramma trianguliferum hover fly, a new species record for Ireland.
What I thought was the female Meligramma trianguliferum hover fly, a new species record for Ireland, turned out to actually be Meliscaeva auricollis, one of the earliest species of spring.