Sunday, September 08, 2013

got lucky last night

Long time no post. I've no intent for this blog to die and I still love reading many of your blogs but I've just not had time or inclination to share much recently. In fact I've got a ridiculous build up of good nature material from past trips: tamarins, tigers, turtles, crocs, sloths, orchids, toucans, you name it. But I haven't felt like sharing.

This morning I found something I had to share. A piece of epic luck. I've recently (August) started moth trapping. I was inspired to do so by both a load of epic silkmoths and hawkmoths I saw at Canopy Tower in Panama and by the epic garden lists of invertebrates various british moth trappers have had. So this morning after what transpired to be a horrible night, I went out to check my trap and discovered an enormous dark shape beneath the bulb.

I knew what it was immediately. I just didn't believe it. I quickly brought it in out of the rain to dry out and checked my id wasn't off. It wasn't. I checked again. Still exactly what I thought it was.....

1973 Death's-head Hawk-moth Acherontia atropos

Yeah. If you're a fan of this blog (or classic thrillers) you probably recognise it too.

The Death's Head.....

1973 Death's-head Hawk-moth Acherontia atropos


This is Britain's largest moth. It rarely breeds here but every year a few will migrate across to the UK from the continent. This is only the 11th ever found on my own little island. People have moth trapped for decades in hope of one of these. I got mine in less than a month.

 1973 Death's-head Hawk-moth Acherontia atropos

A few little known Death's Head Hawk Moth facts:

1. Also known as the Bee Hawk because it is occasionally found in beehives eating honey.
1973 Death's-head Hawk-moth Acherontia atropos

2. This is the European species. The Asian one is the one from the cover of Silence of the Lambs

1973 Death's-head Hawk-moth Acherontia atropos

3. It vocalises. Squeaks away like a mouse or chick. Astonishing.

Look how big it is.

1973 Death's-head Hawk-moth Acherontia atropos


Those legs are remarkably powerful. Handling it was like dealing with the large stick insects I used to breed. Stronger than you'd ever expect.

A wonderful sunday morning surprise I had to share.


1 comment:

Floridacracker said...

Wow! That thing is huge! Great find.