Larva minute

I went mothing again last night. Very close to my home. A 5 minute drive. Two traps. Cooler last night, out of the breeze and very light mizzle. The moths were flying but not in the same numbers we had at Ping Tun. Too cool. Hundreds of Plutodes costatus and a couple of Plutodes flavescens. These are crappy photos by anybody’s standards but you see, I was distracted. Here they are anyway as another example of why moths are neither drab nor boring.

Plutodes costatus

Plutodes costatus


I love the squiggly lines on flavescens. I am sure they have a scientific term, probably dentate fascia or something like that. Dabblers don’t worry too much about that. Squiggly is good for me.

What distracted me was the larvae. Caterpillars to the man or woman on the Clapham omnibus. Lots of them. Chomping away in the undergrowth, rudely disturbed by a horde of 5 people with torches and cameras. Although we were mothing (or nothing as my spellchecker insists we should be) a number of these were butterfly larvae. But no matter, a lep is a lep and we have no prejudice against butterflies. So here is a selection of last night’s larvae.

Athyma nefte

Athyma nefte



Cyrestis thyodamas chinensis - Common Mapwing

Cyrestis thyodamas chinensis – Common Mapwing

Larva on a stick

Larva on a stick

Larva4 Larva5

Lethe confusa

Lethe confusa

Can you see the twiggy thing below, running diagonally bottom left to top right – that’s a geometrid larva.

Geometrid or looper larva
Geometrid or looper larva


The next one I thought I knew but having looked in the book there are too many similar and I would hate to mislead you. The one after……. no idea. Yet.

ID-reqd-2 IDreqd

Now I also have some nice photos of spiders and cockroaches from last night. However my sense is that you are not big fans of either of these. But perhaps I can tempt you with an ant. A spiny ant, of the genus Polyrhachis. Here it is and I call it Norman after the legendary Spiny Norman.

Polyrhachis-sp Polyrhachis2


Isn’t Norman cute?

On a serious note (?) I find flash photography at night very difficult. I can do daytime fill flash to lift shadows, bounce flash off the ceiling etc, diffused flash……….. but I really need someone to teach me how to get the best out of my flashguns when I am shooting creepy crawlies at night. Despite the reasonable shutter speeds a number of these images are not sharp or lack DoF as I struggled to balance aperture and shutter speed with flash output.  I see some amazing images from real (non-dabbler) wildlife photographers so there must be something I am messing up. With the brilliance of Lightroom and Photoshop I have rescued a number of them but some are just, well, blurgh. The top 2 I wouldn’t normally post – don’t pass the quality test – but they are attractive. My very last shot is just a section of the hood of one of the traps so you can see the numbers of Plutodes costatus in a small area. It must have been a fresh emergence. I even found one in the car this morning but don’t tell Mrs. Ha.


And on that merry note I hope you have enjoyed Larva Minute.



17 thoughts on “Larva minute

  1. Oh what simply Larvaellous photographs. What with Norman and his hairy bottom and that very scary creature with a huge orifice, what was his name? Oh yes, Larva on a stick – sounds like some dodgy new ice-lolly from Walls.
    Shame you didn’t post the spiders and roaches, I would have liked to have seen them.
    I love the last picture 😀

  2. All photos look good in my eyes but then you as the photographer is your own or worse critic. Some of them are really prety. I find the larvae to be some seriously ugly and fascianting soon to become the pupa stage, I think, the one that where the future moth or butterfly completes its growth before emerging as the real deal.

    I take it that Ms. Ha has a bit of a fright as far as insects are concerned. I don’t blame her one iota. I’m not crazy about insects that I don’t know either.

  3. I couldn’t get anything like your photographs. In a way I think we are our own worst critic. I sometimes process a photograph and think its rubbish. My wife looks at it and tells me it’s good, she’ll also tell me when it is rubbish.

    On a more personal note. Do you get bothered with bugs, mozzies etc when you are out at night.

    • The bugs are sometimes a problem, Mike. Many are drawn to light. The mozzies do bite but I rarely have a reaction. I wear long sleeves and trousers and try to be sensible. We also have to be alert for snakes and wild boar here. On the other side we get to see porcupines and Masked palm civets if we are lucky. Last night we heard 2 species of owl and 2 species of nightjar but saw none of them. I enjoy the night time forays.

      I agree we are our own worst critics. That is how we improve but I am sure there must be better techniques for flash than I use, which is basically trial and lots of error.

  4. Norman is cute… and to my newcomers eye, the photo’s didn’t look ‘crappy’ at all, 🙂 in fact I was gobsmacked… in a good way, … I was amazed at the designs, and the camouflage… and… it makes you wonder at the complexities of life on this Planet Earth, not ours alone but sharing with all species… thank you for sharing your passion.. xPenx
    (i found myself clicking here and there and here I am, nice to meetcha. 🙂 ) x

    • Thanks for the visit, Pen. I looked at your site and enjoyed the poetry – especially Recycle Me. Enjoyed it enough to follow. If you drop by again you’ll be very welcome. Norman sends his regards BTW.

  5. I like the second moth two, all of it rather not just the dentate fascia. I like spiders. I’m not fond of ants. I can see plenty of cockroaches of my very own thank you so have no desire to watch anyone elses. Unless they are on Naked Lunch of course.

    I’d been happily living with a dear little subtropical insect in the bathroom, chattering away to it as you do, every time I visited, and calling it my Naked Lunch Creature. After months, I finally remembered what the creatures in Naked Lunch were. Ever after, I screamed. Shame really, we were getting along so well until I realised he was a cockroach. As you weren’t up on Hot Fuzz, I’ll add the detail, NL is Cronenberg’s (no not a lager) film of Burroughs’ novel. Superbly off the wall. A bit like the cockroaches.

    That last picture reminds me of Silence of the Lambs. I’m obviously on a film rewind today.

    • Thank you for the explanation. I had no idea what NL was. As you may have gathered I’m not very current on films since colour was introduced. Nor TV. Or music. In fact I’m barely current on anything except the bills. The highlight of my day has been receiving my tax return to complete. Bugger.

      • I think colour was introduced a little before your time eg Gone with the Wind. As for TV, ah my days of Spanish soaps died along with the TV. No idea about it. I can manage a little Spanish music from time to time. Not up on it right now though.

        Bills. Nothing focuses the mind like money. For some reason I am of course more focused on my block financial affairs than my own. That’s probably because some people owe their charges and the rottweiler is on the scent. I had a recent nightmare thinking I hadn’t completed A’s tax return. I had, it was due last November, but I was thinking end of March, UK tax year, except even that was irrelevant as the last ones I completed were due Dec 31/Jan 1. Most odd. Easier not to work really.

        Gib tax forms are OK. They just have a requirement that you need to enclose annual figures as well so it means a load of paperwork.

      • I think my first film in the cinema was indeed in colour. Dr. Who & The Daleks. Peter Cushing instead of William Hartnell. After that, I am not sure. I did see Jaws. But I prefer home and B&W. Marx Brothers, Carry Ons, Ealing, nothing violent or gory, nothing loud. We were given excellent free seats at the Superman (or was it Batman) movie a few years ago. I walked out. It was deafening. I couldn’t hear myself snore. My idea of horror was the old Hammer films which were incredibly funny even though they were not intended to be. If Mrs. Ha wants to go to the cinema she ropes in one of the girls. I keep Lulu company and we tell each other cat jokes. Like Irish jokes only with cats. Miaow!

      • Dr Who was in B&W when I first hid behind the sofa.

        The last time we went to the cinema – two visits in the space of a year in Gib – although nothing for the previous ten years, it was too loud, so we never did go to see Skyfall. Hello DVD, I will buy you and watch you on Hal.

        The other funny horror one was Friday 13th or Hallowe’en or whatever it was called. The one where every time someone opened a cupboard door a dead body fell out. It was hysterically funny.

        As for Ealing, all I have to say is: ‘How happy could I be with either..’ Possibly my favourite film, or at least joint first with The Incredible Journey (dog film).

  6. I enjoyed all the photos – glad you shared all of them – even the ones that didn’t meet your own exacting standards. Moths are beautiful. The Bagworm is very interesting – does it develop into something else?
    We often get some nice surprises in the morning at our cabin if we leave a light on over night. Quite a few varieties are still on the wall when the sun comes up. But when it’s fish-fly season we have to turn all lights off over night or the walls are completely covered with these ugly charmers (fish-flies).

  7. Your photos look excellent to me 🙂
    Isnt it amazing how each larvae is so well camouflaged against the subject it’s on?
    The ant pics are great, but like roughseas, I too prefer spiders.

  8. Bagworms! I love ’em. I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I saw one. It looked like so much debris had become animated and was drifting across the Black-eyed Susan in my front yard. What a hoot when I learned what it was.
    I like the cats even more than the adults…they don’t fly off when you want to photograph them although they can really turn up the speed when needed. 🙂

    • Steve, loopers can be very fast. I have an almost nice looper shot but it just isn’t sharp. He out ran me in the dark. Yup, bagworms are cool. This one was small and I wasn’t sure what it was at first – I have seen some much bigger ones. I’d love to see what emerges eventually.

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