Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Phew, what a scorcher

My unsubtly punning headline today bears no reference to the Bank Holiday, although that had its scorching moments. No, it is penned in honour of one of my favourite moths: the Scorched Wing.

Named for the dark streaks which look as though the moth has gone too close to the proverbial flame, this species has some of the finest confusion or 'dazzle' camouflage in the moth world.

Like the more famous Peppered Moth, whose sprinkling of black dots and streaks on white presents the human eye with problems, the Scorched Wing's tightly banded, wavy marks de-focus lenses and even give the impression that the moth is on the move.  I have spent many happy hours trying to get a good 'static' photograph but I fear that this Holy Grail still eludes me.

Resting males curl up their bodies suggestively. The operational part is at the tip

I have managed to get some slightly unusual views today, however, because there was a Scorched Wing upside down in the dewy grass beside the trap this morning. When I rescued it, it furled its wings vertically, butterfly-style, allowing me a good look at their underside.

The Scorched Wing is only locally common but comes faithfully to my trap every year. It provided some entertainment for the grandchildren, who massively disrupted my life and the moths' over the weekend. Fortunately, the good Lord sent me some hawkmoths which the children love having on their fingers. The oldest was even content to allow a Maybug, terrifying-looking creatures although famously docile and entirely harmless, to crawl up her arm.

The sun brought out the butterflies too, including a newcomer for the year, this Painted Lady. On the way down to the river where we met the frog below, a handsome Speckled Wood fluttered about in the dappled shade.

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