Monday, 13 December 2010


We had lying snow for around 10 days and I saw no moths during that time: earlier species would have died off, and new specimens would be staying underground until the snow went away. Sure enough, the same day the snow thawed, I found two specimens of the December moth:

Male December Moth

These feed on broad-leaf trees as larvae, and adults can be found from October to January; their eggs staying dormant until the trees have leaves in April or May.

Note the very feathered antennae. These perform a very similar function to the gills on the underside of mushrooms. Feathered antennae are more sensitive, making it easier to find the female, thereby increasing the chances of reproduction. Mushroom gills increase the surface area for spore production, making more spores available and again increasing the chances of reproduction.

As I was taking the shots of the male above, I spotted a minute (3mm) Springtail on the wall just below it:

It looks to be the same species as the one I showed on a mushroom earlier in the year.

A trip to the frozen high area yielded very little. I did see the empty seedpods of Yellow Rattle:

Empty seedpods of Yellow Rattle

And this frozen puddle on the path had an entertaining spiral pattern:

Ice spiral on frozen puddle
I just realised that the images for today are all virtually monochrome.


The Weaver of Grass said...

Sorry Stuart but I have a phobia about moths so passed over them quickly however I found you seed pods of the yellow rattle interesting. Round here the farmers are so scathing about rattle and try hard to eradicate it from their hay meadows. I always think it is a shame because it is such a nice plant - does it take a lot of the goodness out of the surrounding soil (that is their reason for wishing to eradicate it).

Stuart said...

Yes, Weaver, Yellow Rattle is semi-parasitic on grasses (which obviously include crops). So they can live independently, but can also draw nutrition from grass roots, thereby reducing yields.