I was on my way out to the studio a couple of days ago and saw an odd shape on the door. I thought it might be a leaf caught in a cobweb, but it just didn’t look right. On closer examination it turned out to be a pair of mating Poplar Hawk Moths. I’ve not seen that many Hawk Moths in my life, so this was a photographic chance I simply couldn’t miss. I ran and got two Olympus E-M10 bodies. I fitted one with my Nikon-fit Sigma EX macro lens and adapter, and the other with my Panasonic 100-300mm lens and an extension tube. I did need to focus closer than the lens would normally focus.
The moths were in the shade so the contrast was nice and low. It was quite awkward to get into a good position due to parked cars, but after a bit of back bending I was there. The female was somewhat larger than the male; it’s all those eggs she was carrying. She was also much more colourful.
After a while the sun moved round so the moths were lit more brightly, and the contrast went up. I put the camera on the door below the moths and flipped up the rear screen so I could frame the image. The male, with his larger antennae, now looks a bit like a biplane aircraft.
The angled sun was picking out the wing patterns and scales so I began to get closer. I didn’t want to get too close as they were somewhat occupied, and it would have been rude to disturb them. The female’s wings and furry thorax have lots of detail and beauty.
Finally I focused on just one wing of the female. You can see each individual wing scale and the pattern is fabulous. The wings are quite big; the female has a wingspan of around 70 to 100 mm. It’s a good-sized insect! They were mating for several hours, but eventually left. I may never see anything like this again, and it was literally in my own back yard.
Take your photographic chances!