The carnival of the insects

The weather has been grey-clouded with storms threatening but not fulfilling their promise, providing a steel backdrop to the downland.

Fackenden Down is bone dry after a long dry summer and the flowers are going over fast; the butterflies are are no longer thick on the ground, just a single marbled white and a handful of common blues, browns and skippers. Greater knapweed is past its best; it appears to thrive around the grey ash of a winter bonfire. White bryony is now in full flow and trails over the tops of hedges.

A great variety of moths are kicked up from the sward; most just dodge away like purse snatchers and quickly vanish back into the sward. The longhorn moths are green-eyed and dressed in burnished gold; they have a delicate bouncing flight as though attached to strings and only visible as the sun catches the wings and outrageously long antennae. Plume moths also appear to have stepped off the carnival stage with their pencil thin wings and abdomen, poised on short spiny legs. Bumblebees flecked with pollen bumble about and provide the comedy turn. Butterflies, the pretty little things, do nothing but pose and are of course always the winners.

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