Friday, 22 July 2016

Butterflies and Moths

The day started under a light westerly which, in due course, brought plenty of warm, sunny intervals. These offered a good chance of seeing some of the butterflies and moths which have had a hard time in the recent weather, so the day's walk took me up past St Comghan's church and then away towards the Kilchoan waterworks.

Despite the rain, the whites seem to be doing well, with plenty of them on the wing recently, even in some of the very brief dry intervals. I came across this one early in the walk when, with the day not yet warm, it sat quietly on a bracken leaf long enough for the lens to be pushed within a couple of centimetres. It's easy to see why this 'cabbage white' is called a green-veined white.

The Raptor, as well as producing beautiful pictures of the local birds, also has a sharp eye for butterflies.  This looks like a male common blue, with a bright blue top-side and....

....beautifully patterned underside to his wings. Only a few of these are on the wing at the moment, and I still haven't seen a female.

Three of these moths were sunning themselves in the croft fields above Ormsaigbeg . They are one of the treble bars, perhaps the lesser treble bar, a moth I've not identified before. They're supposed to be night-fliers but these were thoroughly enjoying the sunshine.

Despite some time spent hunting for them, only one six-spot burnet could be found. The wind had enough of a chill on it for the burnets to be clinging to stalks rather than flying, which is a pity as they make an impressive buzzing sound when they're on the wing.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable walk - until I arrived home and took off my boots. Somehow, this moth had become jammed into my boot between the side of the my ankle and the leather. When it was extricated, it was alive enough to....

....clutch hold of my finger. It looks very like a burnet but has very transparent upper wings, reddish underwings, and hasn't the prominent spots of the more common burnet varieties. The picture shows an iridescent blue area at the base of its wing and a couple of red patches near it.

It was put in the shade on a slate to give it a chance to recover, but when I returned it was dead.

I have no idea what it is, and have a horrible feeling that I've killed a member of a very rare species - and I don't even know, having walked miles, where it came from.


  1. Might be a Cinnabar moth? Feeling a bit sorry for itself?

  2. I think that's just a six-spot burnet which has rubbed off a lot of scales/hair on your sock/boot - not Transparent burnet or similar

  3. We think that the upper image is of a Treble Bar, not at lesser Treble Bar, as the Lesser Trebble Bar has a very angulated initial stripe on its forewing. The poor dead one is a Transparent Burnet. Great photos.

  4. Many thanks for your comment, Ian. Saddened, and thrilled, if the dead moth is a transparent burnet. The species has been reported at Sanna but I have never seen one, either there or anywhere else on Ardnamurchan. It's most likely to have been picked up in my boot at the back of a neighbouring croft, so I need to go searching... Jon

  5. Several Transparent Burnet flying on upper shore and walled area just to the south of Ardnamurchan Point Lighthouse on 20th June this year.