Caught in the light - images of insects 2

Camouflage / Flashes of Colour

by Christina Brodie, UK

 Continued from Micscape, October 2023.

Editor's note: Christina Brodie has shared a wide variety of drawings and paintings from Nature in Micscape. In this latest series she has studied insect life attracted to a natural trap, a skylight as shown below. She shares a variety of drawings and paintings of these subjects, part 2 of this gallery is below. All images are copyright Christina Brodie and should not be used without her permission.


Including species from the Notodontidae (mainly Prominents), Lasiocarnpidae (Eggars), and Sphingidae (Hawkmoths), this selection is from some of the earlier studies I made inside a building where the skylights form natural moth traps.

Study Page A lively study of moths (not to scale) observed around July / August. Small Magpie (Anania hortulata), Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha), White Plume (Pterophorus pentadactyla), Brimstone (Opisthographis luteolata), L-Album Wainscot (Mythimna L. album), Clay Triple-Lines (Cyclophora linearia), Riband Wave (Idaeaaversata), Bright-line Brown-Eye (Lacanobia oleracea).

Study Floor Tile Hexagonal floor tile of marbled grey vinyl set into the fabric of the buff marbled vinyl floor. This illustrates how moths can be more, or less, camouflaged depending on their background. Showing Blotched Emerald (Comibaena bajularia), Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata), Orange Underwing (Archiensis parthenias), Brighton Wainscot (Oria musculosa).

Three Moths In Flight Light Emerald (Campaea margaritaria), and two unidentified micromoths. Painted in delicate greens and grey-browns, these are almost reminiscent of the work of Victorian illustrator Arthur Rackham.

Pale Eggar (Trichiura crataegi - male, side and top views) and Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina - top view), which are both species from the Notodontidae. The Pale Eggar a tiny furry moth has the appearance of a little guinea-pig; the Pale Prominent, that of a chip of wood. Both illustrate the different forms moths can take when viewed from different angles.

Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina - side view).

Chocolate-tip (Clostera curtula) / Azalea moth caterpillar (Datana major) (?) This was a very lively moth with a fuzzy head, which clearly did not want to be drawn! It moved about a lot, and like its Pale Prominent counterpart, flew out of my window during the night. I sketched as much detail as I could, and managed to narrow its ID down to either one of the above named species.

Silver Y (Autographa gamma) I am always enamored of moths with the kind of striking metallic markings on their wings that seem to be made of pure white gold. This is Silver Y, which has a comma-shaped marking on its otherwise dark wings. The "rigor mortis" phase of this specimen has (as frequently happens) culminated in a folding of the wings. This particular moth is a migrant from warmer climates, which rarely overwinters in Britain.

Poplar Hawkmoth (Laothoe populis) Very common, this large moth has a brilliant flash of orange on its hindwings. This flash is nevertheless concealed in its "resting" pose where the hindwings are moved forward to alter the shape of the moth, and further camouflage it against tree bark.

145438 - Poplar Hawkmoth (Laothoe populis) Resting pose. This schematic drawing was deliberately done in the style of one of William Blake's artworks, with rainbow watercolours infilling a more stylized shape.

For source information, I used the following website run by Ian Kimber:

Comments to the author are welcomed, and can be contacted via the site webmasters.

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Christina Brodie 2023.

Published in the November 2023 edition of Micscape Magazine.

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