Wednesday, 3 September 2008

razzle dazzle

Here's a dashing moth. The Angle Shades. There's nothing else like it in Britain, not even the Small Angle Shades which doesn't have the dramatically raked wings. Most unusually, the Angle Shades furls these like an umbrella when at rest. As with the Hooktips which I mention some way below, moth specialists link the dramatic wing shape not to flying skills but to camouflage and I think my picture rather bears that out.
The steeply angled leading edge, the empty fantail and the patterns combine to confuse, exactly as in the Dazzle camouflage pioneered on ships in the First World War. I have a marvellous essay on this somewhere in an exhibition catalogue called Camouflage, written by an outwardly staid Royal Navy officer called Wilkinson who even managed to persuade the Admiralty to paint warships pink. If you search Dazzle camouflage on Google Image you will have a happy time.
Here's the Angle Shades, too, on a blank background (the inside of the moth trap), showing its odd outline. If you click on this pic to enlarge it, you can study the furls and the jet engine shape more closely, along with some tiny flies which were also dazed by my light.

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