Tuesday, 1 June 2010
A fine night
It was the year's first truly mothy night last night - you could sense it in the very late twilight at 10.30pm. Warm, still and scented; no wonder they came out in rich variety and good numbers. I didn't have time to deal with the smaller and browner ones - plenty of carpets and pugs - but here are some of their handsome companions: a Pale Tussock doing an imitation of Gandalf the Grey; an Iron Prominent with its interesting colours, a White Ermine in a properly white rose Yorkshire setting and, finally, our familiar Poplar Hawk in an unusual pose. Having photographed it just the other day, I was trying to shake it out of the eggbox into a gloomy refuge below our loquat tree. It wouldn't budge, but spread open its wings to show the lovely russety patches on the hindwings which are usually concealed. Thank you! Eventually I hid both moth and eggbox deep in the natural labyrinth formed by the loquat's big, crinkly leaves. We don't actually get loquats, but it's a handsome tree, a gift from Roy Harry, the Guardian's motoring correspondent long ago, who brought back a tiny sapling from a Mediterranean holiday.
Note the fine antennae on some of these moths. The variety in these sensory instruments is remarkable, from slender threads to objects which look like the most complicated of rooftop TV aerials. I wonder how many channels they can receive.