Monday, 27 June 2011
Hamlet, 'tis thy father's ghost
I was going to tell you about a fascinating fly on our bedroom window last night, but this handsome creature appeared in the trap this morning and scooped my plan. It's a Ghost moth, well-named for obvious reasons, although the females have a different, buttery-streaked-with-orange livery. Actually they look like those novelty Wensleydale cheeses dotted with odd fruits which they make now at the 'Wallace and Gromit' creamery in Hawes.
The male here is more of a slice of camembert, although his underside is quite different. My specimen was very sleepy and so quite co-operative. I'm sorry not to have got the focus dead-on, but here he is from below; a sort of mushroom grey.
The Ghost adds a distinctive word to the vocabulary of moths: lekking. This is the term used for the male's distinctive habit of fluttering over one spot with a pendulum-like action, sometimes in numbers, while releasing a powerful pheromone scent. Powerful is the word because although it smells like goat, the effect on females is so overwhelming that they sometimes fly straight at the male and both tumble to the ground. There they get on with it, according to my moth Bible from which I am taking all this on trust. It adds, "mating pairs are conspicuous on low vegetation by torchlight."