Friday, 4 May 2007

Little and large

This Orange Ladybird is the species (apart from the notorious Harlequin) that most often turns up in my moth trap. Once believed to be a good indicator of ancient wood land the Orange ladybird, (Halyzia 16-guttata) is now more widespread and is usually associated with Ash and Sycamore trees and is often attracted to light. It has orange legs and usually has 16 spots, as suggested by its scientific name. At about 5.5 mm long it was the smallest beastie in my moth trap last night.

At the other end of the size scale was this beautiful Privet Hawk-moth (Sphinx ligustri). This is the largest moth resident in the UK with a wing span approaching 4 inches (120mm). Normally this species is on the wing in June and July. Previously the earliest date that I have caught one was May 29th, in 2004, so this is the earliest by 26 days. This probably reflects the warm weather of April and since the caterpillar feeds on Privet as well as Lilac and Ash, there shouldn't be a shortage of food when her eggs hatch. The large caterpillar is even more spectacular than the moth, being bright green with lilac and white stripes along the side, and a curved black 'horn' at the rear.


Josy C said...

I have never seen an orange ladybird before, and I find your photograph intriguing. It almost looks like it is wearing a slicker (or "raincoat"- I never remember what slang/regional phrases are understood where) over its wings!

Tony Morris said...

Hi Josy c, Slicker is new to me, raincoat is very English. The coloured part, is really the front part of the wings, it covers the more delicate back part and the abdomen. There are about 4500 species in the world!