And so to Dorset. The site in the north of the county looked suitable: hedgerows. All I needed to do was search them at first light. And as I was sleeping on site (more of that later), that shouldn't be a problem. And nor was it...
Geoff - you have made me so happy. Thank you. Micromoths rule.
Geoff normally emerges in late May, and flies in the dawn sun. He (or she) lives in hedgerows and scrub - in places with dead wood. I have seen Geoff once before, but in a pot - and the individual was literally on its last legs, having been swept from the undergrowth a little too vigorously. Because I'm an impatient soul, I started looking for Geoff in mid-May. My first seven attempts - some at known sites, others at sites which looked good to my untrained eye - were unsuccessful. Frustration was building. Then came the news that Geoff was out! Friends had spotted it flying in Herefordshire and Norfolk alike! It surely wouldn't be long now...
All were in shady forest rather than sunny hedgerows (perhaps I had been looking in the wrong places?) and all were in tangled bramble patches with a mixture of live and dead vegetation. All were gloriously colourful, glittering like gold dust in the shards of light.
All were bizarrely shaped with long legs, pales and antennae sticking out in every direction. And all were utterly wonderful.
I shall save details of the first encounter for my book. Suffice to say it involved a first mournful then panicky "Ge-ur-effffffff!" as I spotted my target moth before it flew over dense brambles out of sight and apparently out of my life, at which point Wingman Will collapsed to the ground in hysterics.
Eventually, however, we found 13 of these amazing creatures, including eight together, apparently lekking.
One of the things I am most looking forward to writing about in #MyMothYear book is the joy (and pain! and frustration!) of micromoths. To extol their virtues, this year I need to see some of the very finest examples. The barely disputable champ of these - at least among widespread, relatively common moths - is called Geoff. At least, that's what everybody calls him. His (or her) full name, in Latin, is Alabonia geoffrella. The suggested English name is Common Tubic. But that's rather uninspiring (as well as inappropriate in the eyes of many moth-ers; see below), so I'll call him (or her) Geoff.