Friday, 27 May 2011
The moth that thinks it's a butterfly
Quite often, I find moths in the trap which look dead - lying on their backs or sides like the White Ermine a couple of posts below. But like Jairus' daughter, they are not dead but sleeping. This nice little Cinnabar, above, is dead, I'm afraid. I found it in the greenhouse on a window sill, either doomed by the heat and failure to find the door, or caught by a spider. A strand of web entangled its legs.
This is a common moth but interesting. It flies by day and has simple antennae, two of the features which distinguish butterflies from moths. My moth Bible describes its colouring as red and black, but I detect a greenish tinge to the 'black'. It has similar cousins in the Burnet moths which have the same colourways (cinnabar is the reddish ore from which mercury is made) and butterfly habits. So is it a butterfly? No. The antennae are not clubbed at the end, which is always the case in butterflies, and the Cinnabar is equally happy flying at night which no British butterflies do (unless you disturb a hibernating Peacock or Small Tortoiseshell from your curtains). No doubt there are other more scientific and taxonomic reasons which I will master one day.
Ragwort-hysteria.blogspot.com. We should all defend the noble weed.