Thursday, 24 October 2013

All of a codpiece

Good to hear the BBC's dome-headed arts guru Will Gompertz using a moth metaphor this morning on Radio 4's today - "The arts world is drawn to money like moths to a flame", he said, accurately. By chance, I also came across the final paragraph of Wuthering Heights this week while reading John Buchan's memoir Memory Hold The Door which itself concludes by quoting Emily Bronte's famous words:

I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

I put moths in red, not Emily.

One of these days I must attempt an encyclopaedia of references to moths in global culture, but for now here are last night's visitors to the trap. We are in a season of Red-green Carpets, lovely little moths the size of my thumbnail, whose forest colours of greens and russet would have appealed to Robin Hood.

They often rest in the curious manner of my second photograph, with their tails held high in the air - a position suggestive of codpieces and other ways of emphasising that particular part of the body. Given the prime purpose of their existence - to reproduce - I am sure that there is an element in this habit of signalling to the opposite sex. It occurs with much bigger moths such as the Poplar Hawk and there is a common variant among micro-moths of the entire body slanting up at an angle.

I must get on with other things, so here's a glimpse of other overnighters: a Beaded Chestnut, above, followed below by an Autumnal (I think) and a November Moth (I'm sure), a nice little grey and a ditto brown which await my faltering ID skills - Update: I'm going for a couple of Quakers: a Yellow-line and a rather faded Red-line - and finally a curious mini-caddisy type creature which was little more than the size of a pencil tip.

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