Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Hidden Beauty

I seldom write about my mothing on this blog, since I started a separate mothing blog, detailing each catch.

I thought I'd make an exception with this Red Underwing, Seen with the wings folded it hardly notices, especially against a surface like a tree trunk.It does show up a bit more against this runner bean leaf, but even so the subtle cryptic colouration is still striking. In this pose it hardly rivals some of our more colourful butterflies, like the Red Admiral.

But get it to open its wings and that is a totally different thing. The bright red and black hind wing, that is covered when it is at rest, flashes brilliantly as it flies.

I persuaded this one to sit quietly on a small paint brush, so I could take a picture of the underneath. The red and black hind wing is still bright from this side, but more surprisingly the cryptically marked forewing is eye-catchingly black and white striped from this side. As it is mainly a night flier I'm not too sure how this hidden pattern has evolved or what purpose it serves in evolutionary terms. It doesn't really matter, the moth is one of our more stunning garden creatures, even if it is seldom observed by the human eye.

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