Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Social classes

If we were to look at moths through a Downtown Abbey lens, from the days of a set social order divided into classes, the Kittens would, I am confident, be generally seen as aristocrats. There is something fine and tasteful about the two Sallow Kittens shown here. 

Perhaps the black and white trim carries a hint of ermine as well, while the well-curved trailing edge of the wings, below, resembles the back parting of a swish frock coat.

The Orange Swift, which has started to arrive in numbers as is its won't (the Common Swifts having come in a similar wave two months earlier), fits The Earl of Clarendon's description of Cromwell's Parliamentarians in his terrific - and very readable - History of the Great Rebellion: "I had rather have a plain, russet-coated Captain, that knows what he fights for and loves what he knows, than that which you call a Gentleman and is nothing else'" 

I doubt that Orange Swifts know or love much at all, other than the essentials of nectaring and finding a mate, but they are scientifically interesting nonetheless. Compare the male, above, and the female, below, and you have a handy example of sexual dimorphism, or obvious physical distinction between the sexes other than their genitalia, which may come in useful for a student's essay one day.

Finally, the Pug moths could perhaps to be said to represent historical images of the common people: small and not very interesting and for me, notoriously, very hard to tell apart. Mercifully, there are a few exceptions and one of them flew in last night: the unmistakeable Lime-speck Pug below.

I think that my final moth today is a Currant Pug. This year, we got to our blackcurrants first.

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