Friday, 17 September 2010

Setting the Calendar

Most of the natural world around us changes with the seasons. The wild flowers that we see are seasonal and usually you could almost set your calendar by the first appearance of many species. It is the same with birds. When we lived near a colony of Swifts they arrived each year on the 3rd of May and left on the 8th August. The odd one may have lingered longer but the large screaming flock always seemed to disappear after this date. It is pretty much the same with moths.

Lunar Underwings have appeared in the last couple of days. It isn't a particularly spectacular creature but it is fairly consistent on it's timing. Usually I catch the first one between Sept 12th and 15th. This year that was when they arrived in some numbers but unusually there was an early one on the 7th. Already the month is exceptionally cold at night, I wonder if there is a connection.

Another mid-September moth is the Feathered Ranuculus, named after the feathery antennae of the male. The larvae feed on a number of low plants, with a preference for biting Stonecrop (Sedum acre) and thrift (Armeria maritima). Neither of these plants are,a s far as I know, in the family Ranuculaceae, a family that includes Buttercups and Clematis. The name Ranuculus comes from the Greek meaning little frog and the plant family name is probably derived from the waterside habitat of many of its members.

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