Emerging Scarlet Tiger

John Cobb writes:

Yesterday, coming in after emptying the tea leaves on the garden at Sue’s house, I noticed something dark and very crumpled looking about a foot up from the bottom of the door frame.

At first I didn’t know what it was, but as I watched it was obvious it was a recently-emerged scarlet tiger moth slowly unfolding and drying its wings. First it unfolded its top wings, and then its underwings; the whole process took about half an hour and gave me the chance to appreciate the stunning scarlet of its undersides which you don’t usually see unless they are flying.

It was a dull day and the moth was rather torpid; it eventually took off and landed on my arm, which tickled a bit. Then it flew off and sat on some lavender where it stayed all day.

My books all say that they – scarlet tigers – are usually found in damp places, which Sue’s garden isn’t. I get a fair number of them in my garden, which has a dampish, shady corner. One of their preferred food plants is comfrey that I leave to grow wild (possibly to the annoyance of my tidy neighbours) for the benefit of the caterpillars and also bees, which really love it.

John Cobb, 14 June 2022

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