• Sleeping Lepidoptera
  • 17th May 2014

  • Butterflies and moths can be great subjects to photograph... but it's not easy when moths are mainly nocturnal and butterflies never seem to keep still. One answer is to photograph them while they're asleep.

    Last night I went down to the Alun Valley just as it was getting dark, set up the moth trap and then went in search of sleeping butterflies. I eventually found a Small Peral-bordered Fritilary roosting peacefully on the tip of a Glaucous Sedge stem. I left it there, but returned just after dawn this morning to photograph it in the early morning light. It was still sleeping, but since insects don't have eyelids it looks wide awake.

    Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene) in the Alun Valley, south Wales
    Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)

    By then it was daylight and the moths in the trap were all asleep including a lovely Pebble Prominent resting on a piece of wood I'd left inside.

    Pebble Prominent (Notodonta ziczac) in the Alun Valley, south Wales
    Pebble Prominent (Notodonta ziczac)

    There was also a magnificent Poplar Hawk Moth. Careful not to wake it, I placed it on a bracken frond where I could take photos from various different angles before moving it to a safer resting place deep in the vegetation.

    Poplar Hawk Moth (Laothoe populi) in the Alun Valley, south Wales Poplar Hawk Moth (Laothoe populi) in the Alun Valley, south Wales
    Poplar Hawk Moth (Laothoe populi)