Mirths of Les Sanitaires

Whereas the French language, with Velo Tout Terrain, has a much more appropriate phrase for Mountain Bike, it simply doesn’t get it with moths, or “mirths”, as inspector Jacques Clousteau would have it. There are many day flying moths so papillon de nuit seems most inappropriate.

I have long found the sanitary blocks on French campsites a good source of insect material, particularly moths – the lights attract them and most of these probably really are papillons de nuit. So far I have managed to escape arrest for hanging around the toilets toting a camera armed with a 300mm lens, though I have received some quizzical looks.

At Fanjeaux, I’ve had quite a haul of customers in and around les sanitaires. Since I don’t have a field guide for moths of the area (and I’m rubbish at moth identification even with one), I’m not certain what most of these are so take names with a large pinch of salt. I pass some through an app, Obsidentify, which is very decent chez nous  but it really doesn’t stretch to French species, unless they happen to also exist in the UK.

Moth (1 of 9)Moth (2 of 9)One of the more frequent visitors, however, I do know – or at least, I think I do. This is a huge moth about the size and shape of a Vulcan bomber. I believe this is a French Red Underwing (Catocala elocata). There is a (regular) Red Underwing (Catocala nupta)  which is very similar, though. The first image might leave one bemused but the second, against a window and with its wings slightly spread, gives the game away.

Moth - Lydd Beauty (Peribatodes ilicaria)Then we have a little delight which has apparently turned up in the UK as a rare migrant, originally in Lydd, hence it’s English common name of Lydd Beauty (Peribatodes ilicaria). This is the same naming convention as used for a butterfly we call the Camberwell Beauty (Nymphaplis antiopa).

Moth - Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)This next one is not new to me and certainly does occur in the UK; it’s the Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata).

Moth - Small Dusty Wave (Idaea seriata)Lightening things up from the large amounts of dark grey is what I believe is the Small Dusty Wave (Idaea seriata).

Moth - Straw Belle (Aspitates gilvaria)Moth - Perigune narboneaBack to the delta wing formation, I found a couple more which I think are the Straw Belle (Aspitates gilvaria) on the left, which occurs at home, and one with apparently no common name, Perigune narbonea, on the right, which does not occur at home.

Moth - Armyworm Moth (Mythimna unipuncta)Posing particularly badly is what I believe is one of the curiously named Armyworm Moth (Mythimna unipuncta), due to the invasive nature of their larval stage.

Moth (5 of 9)Finally, rounding things off is one character that I have absolutely no clue about, so I’ll have to try to investigate once back at home.

At least I still haven’t been arrested.

Posted in 2023-09 France