Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Flights of Fancy

Today we seem to have reverted to cold weather, but the warmer nights of the last couple of days have brought in a few different moths.

This Broad-barred White (Hecatera bicolorata) is quite common and I catch a few each year, the caterpillars feed on the flowers and buds of various plants, such as such as hawksbeards, hawkweeds and sow thistles.

The Netted Pug (Eupithecia venosata) is, I think the most attractive of this group of small moths. Pugs are very much like small butterflies but are mostly night flyers. The netted pug is a moth of Chalk and Limestone areas, often found near sea-cliffs. The larvae feed in the seed capsules of Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris), or Sea Campion (S. maritima) near the coast. This is only the third I've caught, the last was in 2005.

The cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae) is well known as it is a day flying moth, and being brightly coloured it is easily seen. Like many insects that are so visible it is unpalatable and its colours are a warning to predators.

The caterpillars, are black and yellow striped and are often found on Ragwort.The larvae absorb bitter tasting alkaloid substances from the foodplants, and assimilate them, becoming unpalatable themselves.

As I said yesterday, the Painted Lady butterfly is invading the country in spectacular style. This is the one that was in my moth trap yesterday morning.
A national survey is being done this Saturday:

There is a unique opportunity to get better information on the nature and scale of this spectacular and unprecedented migration by taking part in a UK-wide count. Butterfly Conservation are inviting interested recorders to carry out a two hour sample count from 11:00 -13:00 (UK time) on Saturday 30th May. This will enable objective comparison with all other sites recorded in the same way.

The data can be entered online at Butterfly Conservation’s website.

Simply record the total number that you see flying through your set search area over the full two hours of observation (including the 10% or more that are likely to stop briefly to feed before carrying on migrating). Your search area will either be your garden or over a 20 wide strip of countryside (10m either side of where you stand stationary for the two hours). Pick somewhere with a good view and do not record beyond 20m.

1 comment:

Dean said...

Netted Pugs are such stunners. Excellent capture, Tony.