Sorry to my moth friends, but this begins a week of butterfly posts. We have just been in France, on the borders of the departments Tarn and Tarn-et-Garonne, and there were more than 30 different species in the garden of our rented cottage alone.
Bliss! And it's an area (some 20 miles west of Albi near exquisite little hilltop towns such as Castelneau de Montmiral) which I can't recommend too highly for a quiet but interesting break in the somnolent green depths of France's rural South West. If this was England, every little gem would be full of visitors. As it was, we were sometimes alone, or accompanied only by such interesting travellers as a Belgian family who were making their way through the area with a donkey like Robert Louis Stevenson in the Cevennes.
As you can see, the butterflies included almost tame French specimens of the Silver-washed Fritillary, a glory I remember from visits to the New Forest but can only dream of in Leeds. One frequented a postcard shop at Cordes-sur-Ciel, the other came to examine Penny while she was cooking. And to show that I haven't forgotten the moths, here is a film of a Humming-bird Hawk. There were three or four of them on the lavender outside our front door almost all the time we were there.
There is a fascinating plaque in Castelnau btw, quoting Simone de Beauvoir on her arrival there with Jean-Paul Sartre and the calming effect which the beautiful, arcaded central square had on his delusion at the time that he was being pursued by giant lobsters. No sign of the Lobster Moth, alas, but then I didn't have my light trap.