Santa Lucia Moths is a group I share with my friends Dave Grundy moth expert and Mr Stephen Knapp. In early March we had a idyllic weekend together, Dave came to visit with his friend Kevin to trap moths with us in Santa Lucia and La Muela. We were joined by my friends Richard and Luci who had come for a geodome building plan we had and enthusiastically embraced the weekend moth adventure. We didn’t know then how serious the coronovirus pandemic would become and just after this weekend we all found ourselves isolated and confined in different places. Dave had luckily just moved to CIMA Tarifa (Centro Internacional de Migración de Aves) where he will be studying moths for the next couple of months. We maintain an amusing communication via a WhatsApp group about clove oil, moths and quarantine. Dave sends us moths each day to try to identify, like a moth exam. It becomes a grounding daily ritual in the crazy of the virus crisis. Kind of like doing a daily newspaper crossword. Some days I am utterly stumped. I record here the quarantine moths.
Day 1: 16.03.2020
Day 2: 17.03.2020
R and B make chocolate cake. I make Fire Cidre.
Day 3: 18.03.2020
Day 4: 19.03.2020
Day 5: 20.03.2020
Day 6: 21.03.2020
Day 7: 22.03.2020
Day 8: 23.03.2020
Day 9: 24.03.2020
Day 10: 25.03.2020
Day 11: 26.03.2020
Day 12: 27.03.2020
Dye experiment with azofeifa root.
Day 13: 28.03.2020
We measure everyone in the morning and the evening. B shrinks 4cm during the day. N and R are the same height at the end of the day even though R is really a 1cm taller.
Day 14: 29.03.2020
Day 15: 30.03.2020
These drove me crazy. The Menophra abruptaria which was referred to as “the toilet moth” (as it was observed in my outside toilet) and moth 2 (from Daves trap) the Menophra japygiaria, similar but different was a real challenge. And it took a long while to get to the final identification.
Day 16: 31.03.2020
The moths of the previous day were not all identified until today.
Day 17: 1.04.2020
Day 18: 2.04.2020
Day 19: 3.04.2020
Day 20: 4.04.2020
Moth day off.
Day 21: 5.04.2020
I wake up to the sound of bee-eaters flying through. The first I hear this Spring. The sky is full of their chirruping.
Day 22: 6.04.2020
I go shopping to Vejer and see that the swifts have returned to their nesting colony. Bee-eaters and swifts pass through all day.
Day 23: 7.04.2020
Time lapse animation with Martha.
Day 24: 8.04.2020
Hundreds of bee-eaters. A mongoose crosses the road in front of me. No moths today.
Day 25: 9.04.2020
No moths. Nightingales sing in the night.
Day 26: 10.04.2020
Day 27: 11.04.2020
Fridays moths take two days to identify. Make a really good lasagna – red lentils, fried aubergine and vegetable tomato sauce. Shibori paper folding and dyeing.
Day 28: 12.04.2020
Day 29: 13.04.2020
Dave is busy with moths having set 7 traps the previous night. He counts 83 species after checking only 3 traps by 1.30pm. A package arrives for Stephen and I with our UV disco light for making an improvised moth trap. Exciting but I can’t find a cardboard box.
Day 30: 14.04.2020
Now there are more moths to identify. There were more than these six. I had left the UV light with some white material as I didn’t have time to make a trap so just photographed what I saw flittering aorund. The Arctia villica is from Stephens trap. It was a busy day so I wasn’t able to keep up with all the moth identifying that was going on in our group chat.
I did however find time to improvise a moth trap. Behold:
I edit a video of hands folding paper.
Day 31: 15.04.2020
Bad moth trap news. Last night was thunderstorms and crazy lightening. I brought the moth trap under the cover of the porch and it was busy with moths. When I went to bed I left a wood board over the trap but in the morning there were only 3 moths! Every one of them had somehow managed to escape. Still what I was left with were Arctia villica and Phyllodesma kermesifolia so I was happy. The Acronicta psi was one of the only ones I managed to identify from the evening as it sat outside of the trap, but it was gone by the morning.
Day 32: 16.04.2020
Me the moths, the owls and the nightingales. I go to sit by the light and moths fly chaotically around me. I like the way their eyes shine in the night. Mostly they sat on top of the trap but I take photos of some in the night and some in the morning. I make adjustments during the day, cutting perspex to make a better top and entrance to the trap.
Day 33: 17.04.2020
Day 34: 18.04.2020
Day 35: 19.04.2020
There is a huge spider in the moth trap this morning. Samosas.
Day 36: 20.04.2020
Moth day off. Rain. Tooth ache (Stephen) tired low energy day (me).
Day 37: 21.04.2020
Inspired by Beethoven’s 5th Symphony begin piano learning project with Martha. Martha and I make star constellation projectors.
Day 38: 22.04.2020
Day 39: 23.04.2020
Today is very windy, my head spins.
Day 40: 24.04.2020
Stephens moths. I start reading The Jungle Book with M. We both cry a tear at the end of the first chapter. Stormy windy day.
Day 41: 25.04.2020
Day 42: 26.04.2020
Freedom! Or a certain type of new found liberty in the form of an hour walk with children under 14.
Interestingly this coincides with a day of huge migration. At first I see swifts and Griffon vultures then I notice higher in the sky hundreds and hundreds of Black kites. It is the biggest number of migrating raptors I have seen since Spring migration started.
Stephen had a deaths head hawk moth this morning.
Day 43: 27.04.2020
I surprised myself by identifying these correctly first time. The nightingales sing loudly in the night. I read that it is the males who haven’t found a partner that sing, which gave the song a whole different feeling / meaning.
Super wonderful walk with M.
Day 44: 28.04.2020
Day 45: 29.04.2020
Day 47: 01.05.2020
Leopard moth. I am busy working on the urban nest mapping project making a workbook for children.
Today will be the last day I record here. Things have changed. From today we can go out for walks and confinement feels… less confined. I am busy with urban birds. I end with the Passenger, Dysgonia algira. We now have an active way of recording our moths in a closed group. Luci and Ricard have joined us there too as they have also made a makeshift moth trap and bought the field guide. Moth life goes on.