Today's most exciting moth was hiding outside the trap and I wouldn't have seen it in my greener days. It's a Lobster Moth, a name that unites two completely different kinds of creature in a way which may initially seem surprising. You only gradually absorb the pinkish/russet tone to the trailing edge of the forewings, folded along the back.
The patterning makes good camouflage with the moth resembling a couple of leaves when at rest. It lives in woodlands and likes ones which are well-established. New plantations seem to hold less attraction for it, even when its caterpillars' varied diets of hazel, birch, oak and beech are present.
I was alerted to this one's presence in the scan of surrounding foliage which I now carry out as a matter of course. Contrary to all best practice in camouflage, the narrowly-angled 'jet-plane' wings were poking out from under a leaf, a sharp, unexpected shape in contrast to the soft greenery all around.
I took this slightly blurred photograph but then - eek - my 'battery low' sign started flashing. I risked one further picture with the leaf turned up but the camera went dead. Had this been a smaller moth, that would probably have been it, because they are far more jittery and easy to wake in the morning. And I would have been sad because although this moth is not rare in southern England, I have never seen one before.
|Waking up at last, and widening the angle of its wings|
|And finally on the move, before I hid it and its leaf under a bush to go back to sleep|
Luckily, the Lobster snored on while I took the camera in for a five minute recharge, and I managed the other pictures before the red light started winking again. Here to finish with, is a real lobster courtesy of www.hospitalityinfocentre.co.uk so that you can ponder the comparison for yourself.
Update: Dave in Comments quite rightly picks me up for not mentioning the Lobster Moth's caterpillar whose bizarre appearance accounts for the species' name, with the adult's colouring a secondary factor. Check out the picture below, courtesy of the enjoyable Creepy Animals blog, for its full peculiarness. To adjust the famous poem about the purple cow:
I've never seen a Lobster 'cat'
I hope one day I'll see one
But I can tell you firmly that
I'd rather see than be one.