Camouflage and Survival

/ in Field Trips, Know Your Moths by Marek
A photo of a brown teddy bear, with it's head digitally replaced with the body of a moth that looks like it has a face
The Art of Disguise

I will have to admit from the start that this blog article is based purely on both inexperience and luck.

Having been encouraged to rear moths from their larval stage to maturity last year with some success, decided to continue in the same vein and keep an eye for more possible candidates whilst out walking.

We did look for leaf mines but decided that they are a bit advanced for our level of expertise at the moment.

However, we did come across a few caterpillars who were looking for a safe billet away from predators and within a controlled environment.

One such candidate turned into a pristine Birch Mocha which appears now as our moth of the month.

We did also bring a Small White butterfly into the world but took it far away from our garden with precise instructions never to return.

The third emergence was for me rather more puzzling as I did not recognise what it was at first, so decided to set up my moth house photographic studio in the hope of some good shots.

The studio takes a little while to set up and when I returned to my captive nothing much had really changed, as it was still clinging to the plastic walls of the incubator looking a bit sorry for itself.

Deciding it best to remove it from the incubator and return it to a more suitable location might prove to be the best way forward.

This was easily accomplished as it readily grabbed hold of the ruler.

Having transferred it from the ruler to a grey background gave me a better idea of what I was looking at having seen several Buff Tips over the years.

Is the female flightless like the Vapourer we raised last year was going through my head but as it seemed happily settled, took the opportunity to take some pictures before placing it onto an apple tree at the bottom of the garden.

I found a nice spot for it on a leaf in partial sun where it decided it best to reveal its true identity

2x2 grid of photos of a moth emerging from its cocoon
It's nice to be able to stretch my wings

If I had seen this moth fully formed, I would have immediately seen through his disguise of a birch twig and just jotted him down for our records, but I must admit I was fooled by this new trickery.

The good news is that no harm was done as it emerged successfully with the benefit of letting me take some interesting shots which I have included as a new page on our site.

I think it is probably a better idea to do the identification first before the photography, if possible, in this situation which is not the norm usually, especially with the micro moths.