Monday, 7 May 2018

Hawk's worth

It's always a good moment when the year's first hawk moth arrives, specially for superficial moth enthusiasts such as myself for whom size and colour cause more excitement than scientific peculiarities or small aberrations in otherwise humdrum-looking insects.

Not that colour is the strong point of last night's arrival, the Poplar Hawk, whose colouring is overwhelmingly made up of different greys. It does, however, have a startling blotch of pinky-red on each underwing, which the moth may flash as a warning to predators when disturbed and alarmed. I wasn't feeling specially interventionist when I examined the trap this morning, so I left the moth in peace.

Its distinction, which lifts its otherwise humble status as the UK's commonest hawk, lies in the way that it holds its wings, with the under-ones projecting further forward than the topwings. This can give it a slightly sinister bat-like appearance and it is not a moth which appeals to everyone. For that, we need the pretty pink Elephant hawks.

Last night also brought the well-named Spectacle moth, above, which always brings a grin to my face, and I've added another Malvolio study of a Muslin, this time also showing his distinctive antennae - always a feature of the male and resembling Denis Healey's eyebrows. Perhaps he received extra knowledge through these which made him such a formidable politician. If we were allowed one extra feature from the animal world, I would be much tempted by antennae, although in the end, I suspect that like most people, I would opt for wings.


Dave Wilton said...

When it comes to eyebrows I always think of George Woodcock!

Martin Wainwright said...

Indeed - I will use a picture of him next time. Many thanks for the thought, Dave (and for all the help you give me on the Upper Thames Moths blog) all warmest Martin

Mike Jennings said...

No, it's always Denis for me though I do remember George's too. I think I now remember Mike Yarwood's Healey impression better than I recall the real thing.
I'm sorry I've not looked in here in ages but I've had a major move myself last summer. Into the far north and spring comes late in Maine. Nice to see you keeping your own blog up so assiduously. I've started afresh at

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi Mike - great to hear from you (on my birthday too) and sorry for the dely in replying. I shall hasten over to your blog to see what's up. All warmest, Martin