Saturday, 16 May 2015

Lordy, lordy

A common but very beautiful moth arrived this morning, appropriately at a time when various politicians defeated in the General Election are receiving offers of peerages as a consolation. (To their credit, four of the leading and much-missed Liberal Democrats have turned this down.) It is the White Ermine, whose patterning much resembles the ermine lining sewn on to the red robes worn by members of the House of Lords.

The moth gets darker as you travel north in the UK and in Scotland its forewings can sometimes actually be brown. But here in Oxfordshire it is either pure white or sometimes white with a creamy tinge, as in the goldtop milk which our granddaughter consumes happily, to my great envy.

This one struck an apparently relaxed, cchaise-longuish attitude when I tapped it out of the eggbox in which it was nestling. But when I prodded it to turn it over, it scuttled into a crack in the garden wall which defied my efforts at focussing the new camera. (I have discovered buttons which turn pictures sepia and the like, but what I really want is sharper focus).

That would enhance the next two pictures of a Shuttle-shape Dart couple, the male lighter-coloured and female the darker, rather Puritanical-looking one. Obvious differences between the sexes are common in moths and often prompt me to wonder whether animals can distinguish between men and women by sight, should they want to. I would guess that it's harder and that sound and others senses may play a laregr part (assuming always that animals have any reason for carrying our this exercise. Could it have any part in the survival of the fittest? Are women more inclined to scatter breadcrumbs, for instance, or give in to purred requests for catfood?

Finally, we have a handsome moth of the 'kidney mark' variety whose identity I hope establish before night comes.

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