On a glorious June morning my one year old son and I spent a couple of hours at a site on the edge of the North York Moors watching Duke of Burgundy fritillaries. These rare little butterflies are only about an inch across and lay their eggs on primrose leaves. I very surprised to find the primroses at their flowering peak, a measure of how late this spring is. At least three male Redstarts were heard singing nearby. Add to this the sound of Curlews, a very beautiful place indeed.
Two interesting moths by the light this morning. A gorgeous brown patterned Oak Beauty moth and a beautiful and strange plume moth. The Oak Beauty is an early moth, flying from late February to April. This one with feathered antennae is a male. The larvae feed on many types of tree including oak, hazel and alder. The plume moth is species Emmelina monodactyla, whose larvae feed on bindweeds. This very delicate moth has survived the winter in hibernation.
Last year I caught my first Merveille du Jour on 30th September. One day later this year I had the pleasure of seeing my second “marvel of the day”. The species spends the winter as an egg in crevices on its foodplant- Pendunculate Oak. When the egg hatches in the spring the larvae feed in opening buds, feeding only by night when it grows larger, and hiding in bark crevices during the day. When fully grown it makes a cocooon undergound and emerges as the adult moth in the autumn.
On the second night of testing my new moth trap which boasts a 125v mercury vapour bulb I caught this beautiful Eyed Hawkmoth. If attacked by a bird it reveals the blue eyes and rocks itself. This has been shown to be an effective deterrent against small birds. The caterpillars of this species feed on the leaves of wild and cultivated willows, sallows and apples. It is not uncommon in the Southern half of Britain, but extremely rare in Scotland. We are near the Northern edge of this species range here in North Yorkshire.
These gorgeous butterflies were seen during a family camping holiday last week.
A nice selection of interesting but common moths by the outside light over the last two mornings. This morning we had an air frost.
I found this beautiful moth by the outside light last night. It is one of very few species which are able to fly during the coldest months of the year and I have read reports of Pale Brindled Beauties surviving being completely encased in ice. The other species likely to be seen at this time of year is the Winter Moth. In both species the female is wingless.
An Angle Shades moth perfectly demonstrated its camouflage today by landing on some Beech leaves.
The ivy flowers along the lane were teaming with insects in the heat of the midday sun- the temperature climbed above 20 celsius in the shade today. Ivy is a very important late source of nectar for many insect species. There were buzzing swarms of House Flies and some hoverflies. Honey bees dragged around enourmous orange pollen sacks. There were also a few Noon Day Flies. These attractive insects lay their eggs in cow dung- the larvae then eat the larvae of other flies. They are known as Noon Day Flies for their habbit of basking in the the midday sun. Also on the flowers was a Comma, looking stunning against a clear blue October sky. Up to four Commas were feeding on apples today along with one or two Red Admirals.
This beautifully coloured and beautifully named moth (which means marvel of the day) was on the wall near the moth trap this morning.