One of the more eye-catching of the moths I’ve seen during more than a year of mothingÂ goes by the name of Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis). This is also an owlet moth, one of the noctuidae. It rests with its wings folded into a tent shape as many of them do, but what makes it stand out is that, as its name would suggest, it looks metallic. It shimmers in the sunlight and as it begins to warm it set its wings aquiver to speed up the process, revving its engines, as it were, before it can fly away into the garden shrubbery to vanish from sight. But, not before a quick photoshoot, of course.
For materials scientists, such shimmering is very much of interest. The scales on the wings of the moths and butterflies, the Lepidoptera (which simply means scaly winged) are inspirational for those looking to mimic the reflective, iridescent, and photonic properties of natural materials. I wrote about Burnished Brass for the magazine section of the journal Materials Today not long after I spotted my first one in the scientific trap in July 2018.