A pink Elephant in the ear

Your experience of Welsh wildlife is significantly impoverished until you’ve had an Elephant Hawk- moth try to fly into your ear or had a Large Yellow Underwing up your sleeve.

Setting up the moth trap

Setting up the trap

The theory of Mothing goes like this: you put out a bright light and all the local moths come and sit nicely on your egg-boxes in helpful photogenic poses, perfectly showing all their relevant identifying features in pristine condition just short of having little labels in fact.  This does sometimes happen. No it does really!

We were trapping with George Tordoff from Butterfly Conservation Wales and we arrived at Y Gweira in the rain which didn’t bode well for the nights trapping, but it soon cleared and a stable temperature of around 16 degrees meant the moths soon started to come in.

The theory was working well with a few nice micro-moths sitting on the trap being smug in their almost unidentifableness, evolution producing a spectrum of miniscule variations on a theme of white, brown and grey.

Elephant Hawk Moth by Chris Lawrence

Elephant Hawk Moth by Chris Lawrence

After the micros it was nice to be hit in the head by a pink elephant (a recognised hazard of sitting too close to the trap).   After this the macros started coming in, some following the theory some not.    At this point getting hit by pink elephants was getting a little dull so it was nice to be hit by a load of Drinkers instead, when the Drinkers stopped misbehaving a Large Emerald drifted in accompanied by a couple of Peppered Moths, a Sallow Kitten, a few Buff Arches and a glorious Pebble Prominent.

The photographers amongst us tried cajoling, pleading then demanding the moths follow the letter of the Mothing theory without much success, with one moth in focus another, invariably a Drinker, would barge into it or a moth would sit perfectly on a right hand index finger (and only a right hand index finger) making for a lovely photo which then could only be taken holding a DSLR with a left hand.

Despite a short shower at around midnight by the end of the session (at around 1 AM) the list was up to around 80 species.