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Emerging Burnet Moths

An A5, watercolour sketch of Burnet Moths emerging from their chrysalises. This was sketched in a A5 Canson XL Croquis Spiral Pad, with my Winsor & Newton, watercolour field paint box. Also using a no.1 sable brush and a 6B pencil.

‘The sun is shining and Mrs W & I are out for a stroll up West Downs Beacon, the highest point between Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth. Here there are wide views along the coast and up the Exe Estuary.
As we near the top of the Beacon there is a diversion of the path cuts onto the golf course, due to erosion of the cliffs. Here, no doubt to protect walkers from flying golf balls, a net fence has been put up along the path. Walking along the net we notice that there are lots of pupa casings attached to it. Today seems to be the day for many Burnet Moths to emerge from their chrysalises. They are either drying out their wings or flying around us. Their black wings shining with a green iridescence in the sun.’

Five-spot Burnet

Zygaena trifolii

They are medium-sized, with a wing-span of 28-38 mm, with a metallic sheen and prominent red spots. Occasionally, these spots appear yellow. These brightly coloured moths are toxic and their colours are a warning to predators. They contain a small amount of hydrogen cyanide (HCN).
They are found in England and Wales on grassland, sandy heathland, sand dunes and woodland. The caterpillar feeds on Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

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