Monday, 6 August 2007

The Oak Eggar

The Oak Eggar, Lasiocampa quercus, does not feed on Oak, but is so-called because the shape of its cocoon is acorn-like. The foodplants are mainly heather (Calluna) and bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), but also include bramble (Rubus), Sallows (Salix), broom (Cytisus scoparius), sloe (Prunus spinosa), hawthorn (Crataegus), hazel (Corylus) and Sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides).

The female above was in one of my moth traps this morning, and posed on a tree trunk for me before flying off. The female is mainly nocturnal. It is one of our larger moths with a wing span of up to 3 inches.

The darker male often flies in the day time, especially on sunny days. This is one I photographed last year on exactly the same date! This is one of our longest living moths with a two year life cycle. The hairy caterpillars hatch around August, and over winter, becoming active again the following April, when the feed through the summer. They pupate in September and the new moths appear the following year.

Other Wildlife. There was no repeat of the Black Kite excitement today. Yesterday Phil Chantler saw the Kite not far from Martin. It did occur to me that, to get from where we'd seen it to where it then disappeared, it might well have passed through the proposed wind farm site. Even when they are turning at their slowest, 10 revs per minute, the tips of the blades are travelling at about 80 mph (if my maths is right) so we might well have been identifying a corpse rather that a live bird if they'd been there.
I wasted a few minutes looking at a somewhat hazy sea this morning and my only reward was juvenile Gannets, out in the haze.

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