Monday, July 14, 2008


A week or so ago, I found this visitor on my back door, blazing fiery orange in the early-morning sunshine.

A Large Yellow Underwing, Noctua pronuba.

The underside of those glorious wings. It's a newly-emerged moth, I think; all of the feathers, even at the edges of the wings, are intact. Later on, they get quite ragged.

Captured, and under glass on my desk, the bright underwings almost completely cloaked, it became just another common brown moth. It has a broken antenna. I think that might have been my fault; I don't see it in the first photos.

Until I zoom in; then the feathers make a delicate pattern reminiscent of those antique carpetbags our grandparents carried onto trains. (Remember them? Heavy, even empty, a bit awkward to carry full, but much prettier than the backpack I am stuffing clothes into for a couple of weeks vacation.)

When the moth wandered upside-down onto my glass lid, I got a good view of his underside. Brown and cream speckled belly, hairy, spiny legs, bulbous eyes, and a tightly-coiled feeding apparatus protected by a sharp "beak".

I wonder about those wicked spines on the legs; what use does the moth make of them? They're in an odd position for defense, or even for grasping a perch.

Someone is sure to know. That's what I love about blogging (well, one of the things I love); other bloggers are so helpful!

I interrupted this post to go chasing after another, different, moth that is flitting around tonight. I almost had it, but I frightened it, and now it's off investigating the corners of my ceiling again. More moth photos tomorrow, I think. And I'll try not to damage this one.

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