A large caddis fly appeared this morning on the side of the warehouse, struggling to free itself from a strand of spider silk. The spider was out to lunch or not interested, so I broke the little fella free. It’s a couple of centimetres long, and gives a very fluttery, slow appearance when flying. These are the creatures whose larva often appears in kids’ nature books, because the larvae live in ponds and cover themselves with a protective casing of grit and other detritus. The adult looks very like a moth, but the long antennae and robust legs give it away as a caddis.
OK, now let’s talk about plume moths. These are really, really common and are to be found almost all year, except in the really, utter cold of winter, but they often pass unnoticed because they look like a small piece of T-shaped fluff or a piece of feather, hence the name. There are also loads of species, 35 in the UK apparently, but 99 times out of 100 I have always taken them to be just the bog-standard common plume, or sometimes the small but attractively-named beautiful plume. I have started to scrutinise every plume moth I come across to see if it might be one of these supposed other species, but suddenly today, I think it’s happened. There are a lot of these around, looking very like the common plume, but with a browner, woody coloration; the common is usually quite a pale parchment colour. My guide book yields just such a moth, with the fairly unimaginative name, brown plume. See what you think overleaf. I reckon the top one is the Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, and the bottom one is the Brown Plume Stenoptilia pterodactyla: