The March sunshine in my garden today stirred three butterflies into action: a male Brimstone, a Small White and a Comma. You get no photo of any of them, for they were all so energised by the early spring warmth and so intent on using that energy to search for a mate that none of them paused for posterity.
However, while these day-flying show-offs steal the limelight, a suite of their dingier cousins - the moths - are also beginning to emerge under cover of darkness. A moth trap put out in almost any garden on a mild March night is likely to yield quite a tally, both in terms of species and of individuals. We're not talking masses of them, but enough to intrigue and delight.
My trap will be going out this weekend, but I thought I'd share some of those lured in by the eerie blue light at exactly this point last March.
I hope I've prepared you not to expect dizzying colour or dramatic punchy patterns, but instead be ready to enjoy the allure of the understated.
First up, the Common Quaker:
I love the simplicity of this moth: two pale-outlined rings on each upperwing, and a pale line right across the wings about four-fifths of the way down.
The ground colour can vary from this mousey-brown through to buff or ochre or even warm sand, so it is like a lucky dip in a box of chocolates as to which you will get.
Many moths first got their English names in the late 18th century. This moth's moniker is thought to be derived from the fact that members of the Quaker religion were prone to wearing drab clothing despite bright dyes being very popular.
Ready to be dazzled by another? Here I give you the Hebrew Character:
Again, I think this has a really simple charm. Those inky markings have the feel of letters on ancient parchment.
It is a ubiquitous species, the caterpillars feeding on the leaves of all sorts of trees, bushes and other plants. These spring adults will have emerged from their underground pupal cocoons, inside which they turned into an adult moth back in the autumn and then lay there waiting for spring to prompt them to emerge.
And, finally for today, let's all enjoy the Early Grey:
Again, it is not going to win any fashion parade if pitted against a Peacock or Red Admiral butterfly, but for me there is something of a faded Persian rug about its pattern, something that repays close inspection of its intricate design.
If you have a moth trap, I'm sure you'll be familiar already with this trio and a number of other moths that emerge this early in the season.
If you don't have a moth trap, do consider it - you'll be amazed at the number of species you will see and how they change across the year. There is a brilliant app (including web-based facility) into which you can plug your date and location and it will show you the most likely moths you will see. It is called What's Flying Tonight.
But even if a moth trap isn't for you, I hope you just enjoy the thought that in your garden and in gardens everywhere, a quiet and rich parade of unsung creatures are playing out the natural cycle of the seasons yet again.
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