Saturday, 15 October 2016

Not as grey as it looks

After my last post's giddy procession of moths, I have only one for you today. But it is a diverting species. This is the Autumnal Rustic which comes along faithfully at the appropriate time of year and has always struck me as rather smart.

The Moth Bible described the colour of the standard form, which mine is above, as 'cold, whiteish grey' and that is spot on. It always reminds me of a Confederate soldier in the American Civil War (when we look aghast at Trump, let's remember that US politics historically haven't ever been a smooth ride for freedom and good sense).

Curiously, in spite of its virtual monotone, grey is also a very fashionable colour in contemporary home decoration. Penny has just been on a day's wood-painting workshop and come back with a set of shelves coloured nattily in a tone called 'Paris Grey', although it looks like plain old grey to me. Young people meanwhile spend ages agonising over different versions of the colour for their kitchen walls.

But the interesting thing about the Autumnal Rustic is that it isn't always cold, whiteish grey by any means. That is the only form that I have ever seen here and in Leeds, but in the West of the UK the moth can be pale orangey-brown tinged with pink while in Shetland it turns as black as the local peaty soil.

Whether this variation is related to camouflage, temperature or other reasons appears to be unresolved. Any young reader looking for a thesis topic? Here is one.

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