Thursday, 3 July 2014

The burnet moths cyber noir day out


The July warmth has unleashed a very special day along the dunes around the Druridge Bay Country Park; the burnet moths have hatched. They are not rare nor unfamiliar, but well worth the time to creep up and admire. The newly emerged are shimmering black winged, whilst their bodies are the deepest sable fur. Vivid red spots blotch their wings, five or six spots per forewing depending on the species. Antennae stand proud, a filigree segmented hook of which the finest blacksmith would be proud. They seem slightly out of place on the dunes, dressed for Frank Millar's Sin City. Seen against the yellow of Birds Foot Trefoil or gaudy purple-pink of the Bloody Cranesbill, the burnet moths add to a remarkably colourful dune-scape. Maybe the Burnets are more fin de si├Ęcle Gustav Klimt that contemporary cyber noir. The males whirr, slightly clumsily, low through the marram stems or cluster on thistles. They can detect a female in her cocoon even before she emerges and the males wait around to mate even as she hauls herself out. Here are a pair with the females white cocoon as their foot hold. They shimmer in the sun. The high summer butterflies are also out in force. Common Blues fizz  past, the more tentative Small Heaths flitter away from out under your feet and Ringlets bob low amongst the stems as if on the end of invisible strings. Walk the dune path south of Druridge Bay Country Park and you will find these beautiful insects in abundance. The burnets do not last long, their extraordinary looks maybe burn out too soon, befitting their vanity, which deserves your attention.

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