Outdoor, indoor

The seasons keep changing. Varsha, sharad, hemant… How gender imbalanced! Four seasons give names to men: Sharad, Hemant, Shishir, Vasant. One to women, Varsha. And no one names their babies Grishma. Anyway, the pandemic which started in vasant has now lasted till the change between sharad and hemant.

This is the time of the year when this night-flying butterfly makes an appearance. Like all its cousins, the moths, it is lured indoor by our lights. You would have a hard time telling this wet-season morph outdoor at its normal perch among rotting leaves on the ground. The dry season morph is equally invisible among fallen dry leaves. I suppose it is the humidity during pupation that determines which morph emerges from the chrysalis.

But mostly this is a time when moths fill your house. In recent times in Mumbai I’ve been seeing a lot of the underwing moths, their drab upper wings closing over bright orange hind wings as they come to rest. But here are three beauties which I haven’t been able to identify. They are all small, between half a centimeter and half an inch! The photos show their sizes relative to each other accurately. You need magnifying glasses or a macro lens to examine them, but it pays off.

Watching the walls of Mumbai

I’ve been keeping a close eye on walls near my flat in the last few months, ever since I realized that many kinds of moths on brightly lit walls at night, and can still be seen in the morning. The moths change from month to month. Perhaps part of this is just chance, but there seems to be some connection to the changing weather. As it got warmer, I’ve started seeing these green moths (featured photo) make an appearance. At rest it appears between 1 and 2 centimeters in size. I thought first that they are a widespread grass moth called Parotis marginata, but now examining the photo, I suppose it is not. P. marginata holds its deep green wings in the same triangular configuration when resting, but it has a brown margin to the wings, not white. I guess it belongs to the same superfamily (Pyraloidea) and I could just lump it into a species complex named after its commonest member Parotis marginata.

Another morning I spotted several of these Asota producta (superfamily Noctuoidea, no common name) sitting on the wall. They are among the largest moths I’ve seen in the last three months; at rest they are easily more than 2 centimeters long, and the wingspan is said to be as large as 6 cms in some specimens. It is widely reported across Sri Lanka, India and the Sundaland, which is Malaya peninsula and the islands around Borneo, Sumatra, and Java. Little more is known about it. We do not even know what it normally feeds on. I guess a strikingly coloured moth like this deserves a common name. Do you think that the spotted orange and brown is a name which is easily remembered?

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