Monday, 29 June 2015

The PR moth

I featured the Barred Yellow on Saturday - here it is again, below left - and it made me think about the colours of moths, a subject on which I have mused from time to time. Governed by chemistry, camouflage and doubtless other factors, it remains a field in which new, young scientists might yet achieve great things.

I have yet to read an explanation, for instance, of the almost complete absence of the colour blue which is so gloriously shown in butterflies, even the relatively modest ones of the UK. Our delphiniums are out now, with cornflower and love-in-the-mist on their heels. While enjoying these very much, the sight of them in the early morning increases my sorrow at the bluelessness of moths.

Green isn't a lot better, though the emerald family gloriously save the day, but yellow - today's colour - is well represented. My top moth, the Swallowtail, is at the pale end of the yellow spectrum but very lovely for all that; and it is also a very good ambassador for UK moths.

When people contact me with descriptions or photos of a moth which has wandered into their dining room or fluttered at their bedroom windows at this time of the year, it is very often a Swallowtail. Neither small nor brown nor madly flying like a demented bee, it is a perfect ambassador for the moth world.

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