Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Clothed all in green-o

Blotched Emerald - not the pleasantest of names but accurate, I suppose

A couple of days ago, there was a very interesting comment here on the blog about the colour purple, linking to a website which described how the great Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone, who was also a classical scholar, had combed the works of Homer for references to colours and found none at all to blue.

Common Emerald - common but very beautiful when newly-hatched

That is curious when you consider who blue is the defining colour of today's Greek islands, with the wonderfully clear sea, the brightly-painted window-frames, doors and caiques and of course the national flag. But it echoes my own lamentations about the paucity of blue in the colouring of the UK's moths, which I am sure has something to do with the fact that they fly at night. We have no shortage of brilliant blue day-flying butterflies.

Maybe Homer wrote in the evening. That would account for his famous reference to the 'wine-dark sea.'

After blue, my favourite colour is green (and there was an interesting comment on the thread below the Gladstone article which revealed that the Korean language has a word which means both 'blue' and 'green'). We have some lovely green moths and by coincidence - one of the growing number of coincidences on this blog since Penny and I moved to Oxfordshire - they came in force last night.

Light Emerald - this one has only a few more days of green before it will fade to greyish white

The top picture shows a Blotched Emerald, not a very common moth although this part of the UK is one of its strongholds. Then we have three pictures of the Common Emerald, of which there were four in the trap, with its distinctive chequered fringe to the wings which frays and often vanishes altogether with age. Then we have a familiar friend, a Light Emerald (two in the eggboxes) and finally a Green Oak Tortrix, a micro-moth, which was tucked up on a leaf overlooking the trap.

My scales are always a bit naff. The strap button is about half as long as a pencil end

With all these moths, I did a bit of messing about to get a good angle because the green can change to a whiter glow in many conditions, and I also wanted to give and idea of scale - check out the little clasp on the camera's carrying strap.

Green Oak Tortrix - a micro the size of my little fingernail though very similar to a macro-moth I much want to see one day, if only on account of its name - the Cream-bordered Green Pea 

Green is reasonably common among UK moths but has a sadly transient nature. Almost all of these moths which appear in apple-like, bright green glory from their chrysalises fade to white within a few days. The ones peeping at you here are therefore very fresh and newly-hatched. These are their Salad Days.

A Light Emerald on the trap's translucent shield above a Common Emerald on the lawn below

The Green Oak Tortrix with another Common Emerald on a nearby leaf

And just to end off with, in case you are fed up with the colour green, here's the Blotched Emerald again, with a big red poppy in the background.

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