lundi 30 mai 2016

Wonderful surprise

After a day working in the garden, I was just coming back when I suddenly saw this wonderful butterfly at the bottom of a fern.



It is a giant peacock moth, Saturnia pyri, also called the giant emperor moth, the largest European Moth.
As the European peacock we already met (post dated 11 April in Fauna & Flora), it has eyespots on the body which resemble a peacock feather, origin of its name. These spots mimic eyes to deceive potential predator.
 
 
Like many butterflies living at night, it never eats. The adults fly from April to June and live only a week dedicated to reproduction. The male has big antenna and can detect a female several kilometers around.
Because this butterfly is so beautiful, Vincent Van Gogh decided to paint it:



In a letter to his brother he wrote: “Its coloration is astonishingly distinguished: black, grey, white, shaded, and with glints of carmine or vaguely tending towards olive green; it’s very big”.

He drew the moth with black chalk and then used a fine pen and brown ink to fill in the legs and antennae. He used brown ink to accentuate the dark parts of the moth. He used the same ink with a pen and brush to draw a frame around the image. In his notes he explains why he intentionally decided to draw the moth instead of making a painting of it:
“To paint it I would have had to kill it, and that would have been a shame since the animal was so beautiful”.

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