A couple of years ago while I was in Nova Scotia, Canada, we stayed at a delightful bed and breakfast called the Baker’s Chest in Truro. Besides memories of the beautifully furnished house and gourmet breakfasts, the well-maintained garden had a wonderful surprise in store. The owner pointed out that a large moth had just emerged from under the decking and was drying its wings on the wooden trellis. A few hours later, there were two moths. The first had been a female and the newcomer was a male, attracted by the pheromones that she was giving out, and now the two were locked in the slow moving and elegant mating embrace that you can see in the video. They are Hyalophora cecropia, also known as the Robin Moth, and are the largest native moth in North America, with a wingspan that can reach 15 cm or 6 inches across.
The Cerne Valley is becoming lush. April has seen prolonged periods of sun and warmth spurring on plant growth. The catkins have fallen and all trees are starting to flower and come into leaf. Along the river banks, the low-growing Butterbur that had been clustered on bare dredged-out chalk heaps are now concealed by dock, stinging nettle, and flowering Comfrey. Iris and Sweet Flag stand flowerless with their roots in the water. An isolated leaf curves downwards to trail its point in the river flow, creating fantastical patterns of reflected light, while the birds sing their hearts out and bees buzz lazily by.
Gone? is a short computer generated film about revival and hope, with a flock of elegant butterflies in slow motion.
The video from Elyarch is being used by the Natural History Museum in London to draw attention to their forthcoming event called Sensational Butterflies. Alessandro Giusti, Curator of Lepidoptera, gave the filmmakers a little help with their project at last September’s Science Uncovered event. It’s become a nice allegory for him of the Museum’s project to digitise their own collections to give them new life (see in his latest blog post: http://bit.ly/NHM-An-encouraging-message).
Sensational Butterflies opens on the Museum’s East Lawn on 2 April. Tickets are on sale now: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/sensational-butterflies