Tuesday, 27 October 2015

He'll hum no more

Charles Darwin is immortal on account of The Origin of Species but he is also pretty famous as a lifelong invalid (of the sort who often live to a good old age) and an unusually kindly child. In the latter persona, he once declared that he would collect and study only those insects which he found dead. Fortunately for the study of evolution, he soon renounced this virtuous plan as impractical.

Having said that, the observant nature inspector can find a surprisingly large number of insects which have bitten the dust, and I have just had this experience with an interesting moth for the second year running. In August last year, I described how I had found a Hummingbird Hawk moth expired in our greenhouse. Yesterday I found another one, just outside and under a honeysuckle bush - pic below.

As before, the discovery allowed me to take these other 'still' pictures of the insect, a moth which when alive is almost permanently on the go and thus very hard to photograph for an extreme amateur such as myself. I'm glad to add it to my pretty impressive tally of hawk moths seen and photographed this year. I saw one flitting about in the garden two months ago but by the time I had fetched my camera and come puffing back, it had gone.

The Hummingbird Hawk has been a success story in the UK in my lifetime and, not surprisingly, exerts a charm on human observers. It has 'apparently long been considered a messenger of good tidings in Italy and Malta' according to the Moth Bible, which adds in a rare moment of personal anecdote: 'One was seen by the senior author on the day his daughter was born'.

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