Thursday, 11 June 2009

Phew, what a scorcher

Here's an interesting visitor: a Scorched Wing. Most of the moths in my trap are described in my book as Common, lovely though they are. This one is Local. That isn't in the Royston Vazey sense, that it runs a local shop and asks you in a tiny but threatening voice: "Can I help you at all?" It means that it tends to be found a more limited number of areas. I'm glad that Leeds is one. Its name comes from the darkened, trailing corners of its wings, although the almost op-art, mobile form of its wider colouring is what interests me. Modern artists have been inspired by this sort of thing. Damien Hirst was brought up about a mile-and-a-half from where I'm writing this, so maybe he encountered one as well.

Look at its tail too. That means that it's a male - a habit of curling the body which happens in several other similar, small moths. The absolutely brilliant paintings in Waring and Townsend, by Richard Lewington, faithfully illustrate this.

The caterpillar of the Scorched Wing (photo from W&T, thanks) is a marvellous example of mimicry. More room for Darwinian thoughts here, although I've got to get on now with something else. btw my noble Guardian colleague Jane Perrone got me to do an entry on her excellent gardening blog for the paper which you can read, if you haven't had enough on Actually she refers back to this blog, so if you want, you can also ping pong too and fro.

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