Have you noticed the preponderance of moths stuck like fridge magnets to the outside of your kitchen windows recently? These are probably Winter moths, not particularly colourful or alluring, more along the line of drab and grey, as befits the weather! But you can, even at this time of year, find some stunning beautiful ones with romantically wistful names…the merville du jour, scarce umber and feathered thorn.
I’m intrigued by moth names and how they came to be. They can be ambiguous; the anomalous, the uncertain and the suspected; or factual like double line, triple line, the red, orange or yellow underwings; then there’s the purely descriptive – the lead-coloured-drab, the dingy mocha, the emerald and chocolate tip. When out of the blue these dour, dry scientific recorders appear to be overcome by nature’s beauty and names like pale shining brown, the beautiful brocade, peach blossom, flame carpet, ruby tiger and clifden nonpareil appear! Exquisite and evocative. Sometimes when Robert empties his moth trap and notes the species it can sounds like the recitation of a poem with each word leaving his mouth morphing into the very thing the moths have been named after – the phoenix, the silver hook, the sprawler, even Mother Shipton.