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Peppered Moth by Andy1

Peppered moths excellent camouflage on lichen covered tree

Peppered moth resting on a flower

Peppered Moth (Biston Betularia)

Darker form moth above

This moth has become famous because it shows the phenomenon of industrial melanism. It is known as visual proof of Darwin’s greatest discovery of evolution by natural selection. The correct colouring of this moth is white with black speckles across the wings, but in the early nineteenth century, it was noticed that a black form was becoming more common especially in towns and cities. Because the dark form was better camouflaged on black trees, caused through smoke pollution during the industrial revolution in the UK. As air pollution became reduced through legislation the black form became less common and the white form began to return as it better camouflaged on lichen coloured trees, as my photo above shows. When I inspect my moth trap in the morning I frequently find Peppered moths but they are always the white form, only in 1974 did I ever see and photograph a darker form but not completely black. See picture above right.

The Peppered moth larvae is also very well camouflaged resting on branches disguised as a twig with its notched head that looks like two buds and with notches along its body which resemble joints of a twig. A great camouflage against being eaten by birds, but as my wild picture shows Peppered moth larvae do not fool a parasitic wasp.

Peppered Moth Larvae

Parasitic larvae emerging from inside a living Peppered moth, and Parasite cocoons.