I'm going to take you somewhere we've never been before on this blog. Brace yourself - we're going to explore the exciting world of...(cue drum beat - dum dum dum) micro moths.
No, honestly, stick with me. It's going to be better than you think.
You see I've been sticking out a moth trap once every couple of weeks in my garden if the weather is warm. And I really have enjoyed the glimpse it gives you into a nighttime world so few of us ever get to see.
You may remember me getting excited when I realised that my garden (and I bet yours too) is visited by such wonders of the wildlife world as the Elephant Hawkmoth, with a body about the size of your little finger.
But I normally only identified the bigger moths - the 'macros' as they're called.
Yet in every trap there'd be a load of tiny moths that just looked too small and too difficult to worry about. They tended to fly off quickly, and that was fine as far as I was concerned!
But then Sterling, Parsons and the amazing insect illustrator, Richard Lewington brought out 'The Field Guide to the Micro Moths of Great Britain and Ireland'. And I gamely thought I'd give them a try and see what new things it could teach me about my garden.
So here are a couple from my trap from last week. Let's start with something I call the Vampire Moth, because it seems to stand upright with its wings open like dracula about to take flight, but its real name is Endotricha flammealis.
It's about 1cm long, and I'm not saying it's the most exciting looking moth ever. But it's really easy to identify, and this is a moth whose caterpillars feed on decaying leaves.
But then I saw this thing. It's only about 0.5cm long but up close it was radiant - such an intense amber glow in the wings and green button eyes.
It turns out it is a moth called Pammene aurita, but let's just call her Pam for short.
It turns out her caterpillars eat Sycamore seeds, and I get a lot of those in my garden. So maybe Pam is reducing the amount of weeding I have to do of Sycamore seedlings each year. I love Pam!
I just find it so fascinating to think that in every garden this complex mix of creatures is out there, just getting on with life, including good old Pam.
I love your green-eyed Pam. Thank you. There is so much out there - too much to learn about, yet really not enough considering how much we've lost.
Thank you for the introduction to your new friends.
Hi Rose Marsh. Very pleased to hear thjat you're a fellow 'fascinator' And what about the micromoths whose caterpillars live underwater in ponds? Amazing!
Beautiful little moths, Adrian, and great photos! I'm afraid I can only manage the macros just yet, but maybe next year the micros.....?! Like you, I find them fascinating, wondering why they are in the garden; then finding that ones like Footman eat Lichens and Algae, of which there are plenty around. More power to your elbow Pam!