Monday, 14 July 2008

First Hummer and First Oak Eggar of the Year

What are these? the answer is at the bottom of the post, but don't go straight there, think about it first.
I was delighted to find and Oak Eggar in one of my moth traps this morning.

Although it is a common moth over much of the UK it is still a spectacular animal. Lasiocampa quercus I one of the largest of our moths, with the forewing as long as all but the largest hawk moths.
The males are much darker and smaller than this female, and unlike the female can sometimes be seen flying in the day time. Despite its name, both English and Latin, the Oak Eggar does not feed on Oak. It gets it name for the acorn like shape of its cocoon. The food plants are mainly heathers and bilberry, showing it to be a moorland species, but also include bramble, Sallows, broom, sloe, hawthorn, hazel and Sea-buckthorn, presumably as it has spread.

Oak Eggars over winter as caterpillars, which are big and hairy, the hairs can irritate skin. In the south their development takes one year, but in the northern part of its range they take two years. As you can see from the above picture this moth isn't pristine and has presumable be around for a few days.

The first Hummingbird Hawkmoth of the year was in the garden around 10.15am, it didn't hang around and I haven't seen it since, apologies for the awful picture, I'm hoping it will return tomorrow.

I popped to Sandwich late this morning for another look in the area where the Lesser Emperor Dragonfly had been seen on Saturday. I didn't have any luck but did see a Brown Hawker patrolling the gully.
The eggs of the Oak Eggar are quite attractive, but I hope not large enough to attract egg collectors!