A ghost of autumn – Spilosoma glatignyi, Black and white tiger moth

Here is a truly beautiful delicate ghost of autumn – the enchanting spectre of the Black and White Tiger Moth, Spilosoma glatignyi who I found today, resting on my worm farm.  

IMG_5908

Bold amongst the reds and browns of autumn, its mothy patterns for me, reference the Snowy Owl, even down to the fluffy large head and the red-eye markings, like the Snow Owl’s piercing yellow eyes. You can just make out the intimidating ‘red eye stare’ in the photograph I took below.

IMG_5906

Even viewed from above, this funny little moth seems to emanate the intimidation that an owl can summon up from just one glance (see the pictures below for a hint at this). I should mention, that these are only my observations, and I’m not sure there is anything scientific about saying this tiger mother mimics a Snowy Owl. 😉

IMG_5911

Snowy Owl Barrow Alaska
Photo Source: Floyd Davidson (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Moths are masters of mimicry, and having encountered a hummingbird hawk-moth back in the UK a few years ago, I remember feeling a frightened thrill as it dipped its proboscis into a lupin flower in my garden. I had no idea if I was looking at a bird or an insect. It was a truly amazing encounter and a glimpse into what it must have been like as a botanist documenting the wildlife of far off distant lands.

Moths seem a bit underrated, almost unloved but they are quiet achievers. They help pollinate, impersonate other animals with their markings , and even mimic bird droppings,. Some even have calls for communication and there’s even a moth that sounds like a squeaky toy. Even if you aren’t into moths, just taking a closer look at their markings is worth it for the artistic inspiration.

Links to help you identify South Australian moths

CSIRO Australian Moths Online

South Australian Moths

Common Moths of the Adelaide Region sheets – Butterfly Conservation SA
Sheet 1 and Sheet 2

Advertisements

One thought on “A ghost of autumn – Spilosoma glatignyi, Black and white tiger moth”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s