Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
wall v. dragonflyAeshna

Amber Wings

Monday 24th July 2000
next day nature diary previous day back
Nature Diary     Rocks     History     Workshop     Links     Home Page    
Brown Hawker, Aeshna grandis, female
THIS DRAGONFLY was found lying beneath a house window; perhaps it had been killed as it collided with the glass. Its amber wings help identify it as a female Brown Hawker, Aeshna grandis. I normally prefer to draw from life; when I think of dragonflies I think of them on patrol on a sunny summer's day, or at rest, but turning their heads from side to side, as if still on the lookout for prey, but this is a good opportunity to take a closer look at its structure.

Aeshna I feel as if I'm drawing a grounded flying machine, like a Vickers-Vimy in an air museum. The appearance reminds me of the struts, flying goggles, brown leather flying suits. It is such a practical and economic design for a flying machine. The same basic design appeared 300 million years ago with the Carboniferous dragonfly, Meganeura, which had a wingspan of 70 centimetres; over 2 feet.

vapourer moth caterpillarThis strange looking caterpillar, about 2 centimetres long, was found wandering about in a house. The closer you look at it the more extraordinary it is. There are the four yellow shaving-brush tufts along its back, two antenna-like horns on its head which it waves around like little arms, and a large tuft of hairs front and rear. On a smaller scale, on its body there are scarlet spots from which spine-like hairs emerge. They remind me of cactus flowers.

The whole ensemble is what a Paris fashion house might put on the catwalk, if asked to come up with a new look for the boring old run-of-the-mill caterpillar.

It is a caterpillar of the Vapourer, a Tussock moth. It feeds on a variety of deciduous trees, such as hawthorn, oak and lime. As you might expect, those hairs are a form of defence; they can give you a rash if you handle the caterpillar. The moth itself is rather brown and ordinary looking compared with the extraordinary caterpillar.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

Next day    Previous day   Nature Diary   Wild West Yorkshire home page