Monday, 23 May 2016


This Poplar Hawk caught my eye this morning; the commonest of the UK's hawk moths, it is nonetheless an interesting creature on account of its body and wing posture. Whatever would they make of it in deportment classes?

Like many of the Carpet moths and other small species, it curls its abdomen so that the tip of its tail is suggestively raised. Since this is where its sexual organs are and since mating is its chief aim (as the insects do not feed and are inevitably short-lived), I suggest that 'suggestive' is the right word.

It also holds its wings in a curious position with the hind ones pushed forward, like some US stealth aircraft. This has the effect of hiding its 'surprise camouflage', two patches of rusty red on the lower part of the hindwings which might startle a predator if flashed.

A dozy Poplar Hawk in a moth trap doesn't go in for much wing-flashing, but I persuaded this one to give us a peep. An intstructive side-effect of my goading - by gently brushing the forewings forward - was watching the moth slowly warm up and start to vibrate its wings in preparation for flight to safety.

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