Thursday, 23 July 2015

Home and abroad

As predicted in the last post, we went back to the Blenheim butterfly house yesterday with our Sri Lankan friends, so here's another dab of exotica to make a change from the moths. The picture above is one of several striking examples of camouflage; the slightly open wings of an Owl Butterfly - Caligo memnon -  have an astonishingly exact colour match with the trunk of a small banana tree. Here's a picture from a little further away, below.

As shown in the last post, the Owl has a further defence against predators on its underwings - a large and intimidating eye. Contrarywise, the remarkable Leaf Butterfly, Kalima inachus, has its concealment camouflage on the undwerwing and the surprise - Boo! Go away, hungry bird! - on its topside.

This is much less often seen than the underwing because the insect prefers to fold its wings tightly closed when at rest. Congratulations and thanks, therefore, to my older son's Mum-in-law, Radha Dharmaratnam, for this great little filmet showing the unexpected azure blue and gold.  I hope that it works on your browser.

Radha also spotted this mating pair of what I'm pretty sure are Blue Diadem butterflies, Hypolimnas misippus - a species which led to this interesting sighting a couple of years ago by Mark Griffiths who submits moth reports to the Upper Thames Moths blog. He told the related Butterfly Sightings page: 

Visiting Woodstock, Oxon on Saturday (31st August) we were having lunch when a black and white butterfly, vaguely like a White Admiral, appeared flying around the flower baskets. We saw it a few times, flying up and down the street, including when it was flying around the roof of the Town Hall. Clearly an exotic it must be an escapee from the Blenheim Palace butterfly house. Although I didn't get a close view, when we were about 10 feet away I was able to make a tentative identification. I've been in contact with Blenheim and they have supplied me with a list of species they have. After consultation with my wife (who has better eyesight!) we believe it was a male Blue Diadem butterfly, Hypolimnas misippus.

Back home, the trap has welcomed the first of the Thorn family for 2015, this jagged edged example of an August Thorn, below. Update: Sorry, although an August Thorn would have been a month early in terms of its name, this is an even more anachronistic moth: a September Thorn. Many thanks to Steve Trigg, eminent commentor on the Upper Thames Moths blog, for drawing my attention to a very good comparison there. The distinguishing marks of the September Thorn are that it holds its wings higher than the August when at rest, as in my picture, and the two bands are closer at th lower edge of the forewing. Much appreciated. It was joined by the classic grey-brown, much dotted and dashed, middling-sized chap in the next photograph. Could this be that well-named species mentioned by my Commentor two days ago - the Uncertain. I am not certain, but inclined to say Yes.

Here's a very nice orangey Dun-bar, too, quite different from the dun form shown the other day

And finally two old familiars. I can never resist a Buff Ermine, especially when posed on my lovely pyjamas. And this Dark Arches found a nice spot to illustrate a modest British version of the tropical camouflages shown above.


Steve Trigg said...

Hi Martin, I think your August Thorn is actually a September Thorn. Dave Wilton posted comparison photos of August and September Thorns on the UTM blog a few days back.
Best wishes, Steve Trigg.

MartinWainwright said...

Thanks so much Steve - I'd missed Dave's post but his two pointers of the higher wing position and the cross lines coming closer at the lower edge of the forewing certainly apply hre. Much appreciated and all best, M