Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Hawking its wares

The year's first hawk moth arrives - always a good moment. As was perennially the case in Leeds, it's a Poplar Hawk, a fine and curious-looking insect with odd twin habits of resting with its fat body curled up at the end and its wings back to front, like some sort of experimental aircraft.

It formed the subject of my second post ever on the blog, back on 11 June 2008 when I published this particularly strange view of the first Poplar Hawk to come to my trap.

Debuts since then have been as follows: 2009: 31 May,  2010 : 26 May, 2011: 26 May,  and last year 2 June, which saw this unusually battered one, below, which got me speculating at the time about possible (but highly unlikely) hibernation.

I love the dab of pink on the otherwise military-looking wings of the Poplar Hawk and the way that the antennae are white on top and pink from the side.

Matching hindwings and antennae - like the woman my 94-year-old mother-in-law still remembers taking tea with her parents when she was a little girl. The visitor had a pink frock and Dilys asked her innocently: "Are your knickers pink too?", those being the days of matching sets of such things for children.

In Leeds we also had the Elephant Hawk regularly, the Lime Hawk occasionally (in both its varieties) and the Eyed Hawk just once. It will be interesting to see how Oxford compares. It has got off to the earliest start so far, and one of our nice new neighbours was telling me the other day about a very big moth they had in the house last year, which sound hawkish. So here's hoping.

Also in the trap last night were the above: a dog-eared Bright-line Brown-eye and a Chocolate Tip with unusually restrained tip colours. It was one of seven, including the more standard one pictured just above alongside a Pebble Prominent. One last thing about all these moths: we were out late last night and so were they. I didn't light the lamp until after midnight.

PS  Check out Charlotte's amazing felt Poplar Hawk by following the link in her comment - thanks very much for that.


Charlotte Davis said...

I love the Poplar Hawk moth - I made one recently, out of felt :)

MartinWainwright said...

Thanks ever so much Charlotte - that's truly impressive. Now that I've retired, I must try my hand at such crafts, though I don't think I'll ever match your skill.

All warm wishes,