Spots and Burnets and Knapweeds

I’m walking in the fields next to the car park at Beachy Head. This really is life on the edge. With a thrill I see something I’ve been hoping for; a day-flying Burnet moth. It’s black and red and very distinctive. But which species is it?

It must be a Six Spot Burnet, Zygaena filipendulae. I stumble towards it as it lands and get some photographs of it on a thistle without thorns. Maybe it’s on Knapweed, Centaurea nigra, although this one is so large it must be Greater Knapweed:

Six Spot Burnet Moth - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I love their huge black devil-horn antennae:

It’s tricky to get a photograph of them with all of them in focus and the background completely out of focus. It’s time for a few experiments with cameras and lenses.

I begin to see more and more of them as I ‘get my eye in’. Then something strange happens. I notice that one of them has a different pattern on its wings. This one has five spots. Maybe it’s a Five Spot Burnet, Zygaena trifolii. The Knapweed it’s on is larger and has flowers which extend significantly; maybe it’s a Greater Knapweed Centaurea scabiosa:

Five Spot Burnet - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Time to pack up and go – I’m beginning to see spots before my eyes.

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