I always wanted to find an Old Lady in my shed – Well the moth that is, especially after reading about it in my Observer book of moths when I was a child. I once found a few wing remains of this moth laying beside a favourite stream in the New Forest near Lyndhurst many years ago, probably the result of being eaten by bats. They are not easily attracted to lights, which is why I have never found one in my mercury vapour moth trap. It has lovely chocolate brown patterned wings, which makes it well camouflaged on dark backgrounds. It gets its name from its patterns on its wings from years ago when it was fashionable for old ladies to wear dark coloured patterned material dresses. It is quite a large moth up to 70mm wingspan and moths fly from July to August.
Well on the 30th July 2011 I noticed a perfect specimen resting inside my shed, which is typical of this moth as they like outbuildings and bridges to rest during the day. I guessed it would be able to fly almost immediately when disturbed, unlike lager bodied moths. So I captured it in a container and transferred it to a large cage, being a lively moth it was difficult taking pictures. When I finished filming I released the moth back into my shed, for the next few days it returned resting in my shed roof probably feeding on the large buddleia in my garden during the night. I think it is a clever moth as it navigated its way through some air gaps at the back of my shed and rested on some black hanging felt making it very difficult to see. The caterpillars which hibernate through the winter feed on Blackthorn and other shrubs and trees. Finding this moth was very exciting for me, but I do not think I will find a wild specimen again.