Tuesday, 22 March 2011
On what must have been the warmest and sunniest day of 2011 so far I spent an enjoyable afternoon in the steeply sloped Knott Wood. Target species, 1661 Orange Underwing Archiearis parthenias. I have spent three years now trying to get a photograph of this species in their brief window of flight during March and April to no avail. Last Saturday I saw about 5 on the wing. Always hard to decide how many individuals are in the area. Today I never saw more that 6 in flight at once but there were possibly 15 in the area. Every now and again one would come close and I had a sweep at it with a large keep net on a 10ft pole. Many attempts were made! After 15 mins I managed to get one. 90 mins later another and then as I was about to leave at 3:30 things livened up and I got 2 more in quick succession. The second one caught had lost almost all its scales but the others were in good condition. I released them onto their favourite birch trees to take the photographs shown here. These medium sized moths are impressive flyers and are great to watch as they perform spiralling courtship displays not unlike the speckled wood butterfly. They have a distinctly orange appearance on the wing but seldom reveal the orange hind wings when settled. The underside of the hind wings are especially vivid.