Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 28, 2014

Some beautiful moths

I’ve just had one of those conversations where I found myself digging in my heals on behalf of mothkind.  Where the assertion is made that moths are brown and boring, the “there is actually no scientific distinction between butterflies and moths” line never seems to carry much weight.  Neither do my efforts to convince that even those brown and boring ones are actually often exquisitely, if cryptically marked.  So, having delved into my photo files, here are three common species of moth that I would not so much hope, but expect will further my argument.

Six spot Burnet.  (Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner)

Six spot Burnet. (Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner)

This one was a bit of a no-brainer really.  Vivid red spots on gleaming, metallic dark green wings is a long way from being brown and boring.  An image of the summer past and one to look forward to in the next one, these day-flying moths are common in flowery grasslands wherever bird’s-foot trefoil – their larval foodplant – is in good supply.

Brimstone (Ourapteryx sambucaria).  Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner

Swallow-tailed Moth (Ourapteryx sambucaria). Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner

The Swallow-tailed Moth is one with a simple and subtly elegant beauty.  A fairly large species, recognisable even on the wing at night.  They lay their eggs on a wide range of trees and shrubs, including Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Elder.

Angleshade (Phlogophora meticulosa). Copyright 2012 Ross Gardner

Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa). Copyright 2012 Ross Gardner

This last one, I suppose, is something of a concession to the idea of the dull brown moths possessing their own beauty, although on reflection there isn’t much that’s dull about it.  The Angle Shades manages to make being camouflaged to look like a dead leaf into one of nature’s many works of art.  Their caterpillars feed on many different kinds of herbaceous plant and, unlike the other two species, can still be scene on the wing, well into autumn and potentially at any time of year.

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