Monday, 16 August 2010

Scarlet and black

We had a glimpse of red and black yesterday, with the Sexton Beetle; today it's the turn of a very fine moth. Welcome to the Red Underwing, a jumbo beast with subtle forewing camouflage and then the blaze of red when it flies or is disturbed. I must admit that I spent a bit of time disturbing it this morning, with a drinking straw, so that you could enjoy at least a glimpse of red. It looks exotic, and indeed it is the 'butterfly' famed for congregating in large numbers in Rhodes' Butterfly Valley. Two years ago, I posted a picture of some we found not far away from there, on our holiday in Turkey. The year before that, one came to the trap in Leeds and last year Penny spotted one exactly matching the colours of a pub sunshade during her birthday treat at Tadpole Bridge in Oxfordshire. So it's a regular, and a very much-appreciated one. Look at its fine, zebra-striped underwing too, as it clings to my straw. It didn't actually enter the trap last night but perched nearby. I think it was disorientated by the light, as the white window frame was an unwise choice for its otherwise excellent camouflage. Which is why I spotted it.

PS Yesterday's hornet was dead, and I thought you might like a close-up of its curious face. I wouldn't dare do this with a live hornet and wouldn't advise anyone else to either.


Phil said...

Lovely moth. many years ago, when I was a student I remember enduring hours of painful donkey-riding (on a wooden saddle) to the Valley of a Million Butterflies on an island in the Cyclades (Paros or Tinos, I think), which turned out to be Valley of a Lot of Red Underwings.

MartinWainwright said...

Hi Phil

It is a great one, isn't it. Just on size alone, and then that wonderful moment when the red appears. Someone ought to tip off Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide about the monocultural nature of those 'butterfly valleys' - and the mothy-ness!

All v best as ever; hope Durham has been enjoying the Northern sun too