Having depressed you with a tale of duck desperation, duck derring-do, duck despair and duck death (see last post), I thought it would be fun to carry on in a similar vein. Who needs good times and chuckles, anyhow?
A couple of weeks ago, Jim called me into the garden to look at a large moth. Here it is:
It was particularly impressive; dusky grey, with black markings …
… and a flush of pink beneath the wings. And it was really big – with a wingspan of about three feet (I’m kidding), with a wingspan of 70-80mm. But it was only when the moth opened its wings, that I was able to identify it (later, using my Boy’s Big Bumper Book of Moths) as …
… an Eyed Hawk-moth (Smerinthus ocellata) – so-called for the vivid blue ‘eyes’ that it flashes at predators in the hope that they’ll be scared away.
I was surprised that this stunner hadn’t taken fright at my intruding lens and flown off. But pleased too – I could continue snapping away.
The adult moths don’t eat at all (poor things – imagine) but the larvae feed on tree leaves, including willow and apple. We’ve planted three apples in our garden orchard (do five trees constitute an orchard? Actually, six trees – if you include the olive tree. Do six trees constitute an orchard?) and perhaps it had been laying eggs on our apple trees. I don’t mind; I was very taken with the S. ocellata – almost mammalian, I think, rather than insect-y.
It was only when I belly-crawled to the moth’s other side however, that I realised why it hadn’t flown away.
A spider had dug its Shelob-fangs deep into the moth’s thorax.
Rather like the fox taking the duckling, I couldn’t really blame the spider; besides I’m a big spider fan (how can you have read ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and not be?). I was just saddened that the only Eyed Hawk-moth I have seen was in its death throes.
Yeah, I was just saddened.
Hmm, that’s a bit of a bum note to end a post on, isn’t it? The death of a another lovely creature. I should lighten the mood a little. I need a random photo of something. Something nice, pretty and calming, yes – that’s the ticket. Like a, oh I don’t know – a horse, maybe. Yes, a pretty horse on a hill – oh, oh … no wait, better still, a pretty horse grazing amongst some pretty buttercups. That would work. Hang on! What’s this? Good lord, what a coincidence. I’ve just found a …