Thursday, 26 September 2013

Vestal virgins



My learned and generous friend in Comments, Ben Sale, is excited on his excellent moth blog at the moment after the arrival of a species new to his list - an unusual event given his skill and knowledge, even of the small, brown and boring varieties.  It's the delicate little Vestal, whose white robe with a slanting crimson stripe gives it a look of ancient Rome.


The Vestals were six chaste young women who kept the sacred fire going in the temple of Vesta, goddess of hearth and home. If it expired, so would Rome, according to superstition. Under their common name of the Vestal Virgins, they were a source of great interest to schoolboys such as myself who had a classical education. The later and more dissolute Roman emperors were interested in them as well.

Ben's Vestal was coy for pics, and mine initially posed on the black bowl which plays havoc with my camera

But he or she agreed to be transferred via eggbox fragment to a better background. My pyjamas first,  as here, then the pink bordello

The moth is appropriately pretty and by coincidence I was visited by the one shown here, on Tuesday night. I know I'm always going on about my pink eggbox, on account of the way its colour lightens up my pictures on these darker mornings; but I have to note the mismatch of pure and innocent-looking Vestal and the box's bordello hues.

Update: I should have mentioned that, as Ben notes in his comment below, this is an immigrant moth and the subject of some interesting studies. These have found that its background colouring varies according to the temperature during its pupation period. Moths from warmer conditions have a yellower colour; those from milder climes such as our own, are paler.  Amazingly, Vestals reach the UK from the Mediterranean. Some breed here in the late summer and produce more pallid Autumn children. I suspect mine is one of those.


A rather different eggbox match features in the last picture. The various Sallows are doing their bit to cheer up the early morning too, and this couple - an ordinary Sallow on the hen and a Barred Sallow getting ready to scamper - found a highly appropriate sleeping place.

3 comments:

Bennyboymothman said...

Congrats on the Vestal :) seems like a few people are getting in on the migrant activity.
All the best
Ben

MartinWainwright said...

Hi Ben!

Thanks v much for the immigrant point - I've updated accordingly

Don't forget to send the Large Ranunculuses...

All v best as ever

M

Countryside Tales said...

Love the chicken's wing! Had to look twice at that one.

Fantastic re the Vestal, never had one here but shall be keeping an eye out. Trap out tonight :-(