Sunday, 7 September 2008

Green thoughts

I was pondering over this Green Arches this morning and wondering why more British moths, and butterflies, don't have the colour green. Even when they do, it often appears only in subtle flecks, as here. After all, the world they live in is overwhelmingly green. When I take a photo of what my eye sees as a flower bed full of colours, the result is green, green, green, with just sprinkling of blues, reds and yellows. I was picking runner beans yesterday, and they also show the effectiveness of green as camouflage. It's quite tricky detecting bean from leaf or stalk, and some grow enormous as a result. Yet moths are famously ace at camouflage. Through evolution, some have proved to be as clever as chameleons. The Amulet moth has three different forms in England alone - whitish in chalkland areas, russet in South Devon where the sandstone is a similar colour and much darker in Surrey, where the soil is black. Maybe soil and stone are the answer, for the adult insect. Perhaps they are at most danger when at rest in the daytime. Certainly, moths have a famous propensity for resembling old leaves. They have got green in their genes, though. It's the favourite colour of their caterpillars, which lends weight to the daytime theory. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is well-named. They spend all day munching green leaves and grass.

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