Sunday, 14 July 2013

Study in scarlet

Today's post is in honour of young women naturalists who provided the material; and it also suggests that tigers hunt in pairs. Hot on the heels of yesterday's lovely Garden Tiger, here is a Scarlet Tiger resting on a plant in a neighbour's garden.

It was spotted by Abi, Penny and my lovely daughter-in-law, who is not very keen on insects so I try not to bang on about them when we are together. But she found this beautiful creature and for all her hesitations signalled wildly but silently (for fear of disturbing it) to the rest of us who were down the road.

Isn't it exotic? Like one of the occasional escapees from the butterfly house at Blenheim Palace, a couple of miles away, where they had some excellent fireworks last night. We could see them comfortably here and so presumably could the moths. But this is not an uncommon moth in this part of the UK. My new prop, the excellent website of Upper Thames Butterfly Conservation, recorded only last week that more than 40 were out and about in the sunshine near Abingdon.

Sunshine! If you are reading this overseas, then now is the time to visit the UK. The weather is the stuff of storybooks and nostalgia for childhoods long ago. I bet you anything that this prolonged spell of glorious heat will have today's children grumbling in 2083 that "Summers aren't what they were when we were young..."

Jessie's iPhone picture of her find - more from her camera later this week I hope
You have to be out and about on foot or bike in such conditions and it was on a walk yesterday that my second young woman naturalist heroine, my niece Jessie, spotted wild Bee Orchids. Aren't they lovely; and excellently like a bee, at least to the human eye?

Orchids' methods of attracting pollinators are the stuff of legend and the Bee Orchid's appearance is supplemented by the ability to give off the scent of a female bee. They have apparently found other ways of survival, unlike the even rarer Wasp and Fly Orchids which rely on mimicry more heavily, but the marvellous apparatus of deception is still available to them as a back-up.

Not a bad imitation, eh? Here's the real thing on brambles nearby

Naturalists in action: I photograph Jessie photographing a Comma butterfly
Lots of things in the trap this morning, which I will deal with later. But among them, guess what? Another Scarlet Tiger. It was extremely lively and scooted along the lamp flex, jumped up on to my camera strap and settled on the shiny glass viewer which in sunlight has a similar sheen to its forewings. I had to go and fetch my iPad Mini to take the final photograph.

On the move; disturbed by a smaller moth, this morning's Scarlet Tiger heads towards yours truly

...then on to the lamp flex - the flash went off in this one but that shows the sheeen

Hop, skip and jump up on to my camera flex...

...and on to the camera itself. One way to deal with the paparazzi. But I had an iPad Mini handy.


Countryside Tales said...

Lovely! I also liked the bee orchid, haven't seen those before. I've just posted some pics of butterflies (exotic rather than UK) you might like- there's a version of a tiger on it :-)

MartinWainwright said...

Excellent! It's almost as exciting finding orchids as moths - and you don't need a light. loads of butterflies about in this lovely weather too. All warm wishes, M