Thursday, 19 September 2013 16:40

Mistaken identity

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The Jersey Tiger moths have been a very exciting feature in my garden over the last few weeks so when I saw an unusual small brown/yellow/white flutter in the garden I was even more thrilled. I managed to photograph and film the unusual butterfly on my Hibiscus leaves and then rushed to my trusty Collins "Butterflies and Moths" book to try and identify it.

All I could see was one circle on a fore wing and two on the under wing. The only matching butterfly I thought in my book was a Woodland Brown, which doesn’t exist in this country, it's just in central Europe. And as, you can see, my butterfly looked exactly like the one in the photo in the middle, opposite the Woodland Brown description, albeit with slightly more bashed up wings.

“My garden is becoming a home for unusual butterflies and moths” I thought and became even more excited.

So, in my enthusiasm, I tweeted having sighted one. Honestly, I expected the entire butterfly community to tweet back and converge on my home to witness this miraculous sighting. However, there was a big, blank, nothing in response. Maybe it’s because I only have a few followers so far (so please sign up). Also, on the first day of tweeting about the Jersey Tiger Moth, I got my Twitter account suspended for some still, unknown reason. I begged to be re-instated, promised I wasn’t a computer or someone with spamming software, and luckily they believed me and re-instated my account, within hours.

I have now read every word of all their rules and regulations, glossary, terms and conditions etc (basically the entire site) and still haven’t worked out what I did wrong. As a result, tweeting is still a bit of a risky business and I am very careful now. Despite this, my Jersey Tiger Moth tweet continues to be "favourited" (if that's a word) by many tweeters to this day and the video is getting lots of hits.

I digress. Re this butterfly, I decided to investigate further. I found some sites online, including the UK Butterfly Trust. So I contacted them through the site and, very carefully, by Tweet. Some kind person who runs the UKBT site suggested I was completely bonkers and that, most likely, it was a Speckled Wood or a Meadow Brown and asked for photos and/or video evidence. So I set about providing this.

Whilst I was cropping the images to make them larger, I realised the butterfly had damaged wings – and could have been missing some vital extra rings that would make it a Speckled Wood not a Woodland Brown. And indeed, when they were sent to this un-named specialist, he/she confirmed that it was, of course, a Speckled Wood.

So how do I feel? Well, to be honest I suppose I am a little deflated that I haven’t had a complete foreigner in the garden and that this is not a sign of major climate change etc. but I am still very excited to have been visited by a Speckled Wood. I’ve never seen one before, to my knowledge anywhere, and certainly never in this garden. So it is still a first to be celebrated.

I also feel more than a little stupid and have resolved to be more careful with my Butterflies and Moths book. I've realised three photos without captions and two descriptions is a recipe for identification disaster. I suppose I should have realised the first two photos were the male and female of the same butterfly not the male and female of the second! I am now relying more on the web and my Domino, “Insects of Britain and Western Europe”, which is much more detailed, for identification.

 

 

Read 72764 times Last modified on Wednesday, 01 October 2014 09:18