Sunday, 30 March 2008

Moths and leaves

I was up in the deforested heath looking at willows for signs of bud-break and spotted this caterpillar on a bush. Turns out it's the Northern Eggar - Lasiocampa quercus f. callunae. Specimen about 3 cm. long:


This is an interesting species (or species complex). The southern populations feed on Oak and have a one-year lifecycle. Northern and western populations feed on heather and willow and have a two-year lifecycle. Populations in the English midlands vary between one year and two year cycles.

I did find a few willows in bud-break:


And also a single specimen of Alder:


And with catkins:


One of the groups I'll be studying closely this year is leaf-miners. I've previously tended to be a bit cavalier in my leaf-miner hunting, but this year I'm going to be more organised, with target species and timescales all planned in advance.

4 comments:

Gill said...

Those are beautiful pics of a very attractive cattie - do they occur singly or in groups? [And what does the moth look like - my guess is much less colourful than the caterpillar?]

Stuart said...

This was solitary (and new to me). It also isn't documented as a 'web former', so I presume this is usual. I think it will get very large: the adult is large (3.5 cm. across the wings), and is sometimes mistaken for one of the grass fritillary butterflies - it's a primarily orange day-flier.

mc said...

Dear Stuart,

While hiking yesterday on and around Djouce in the Wicklow Mountains, some friends and I spotted over 50 of the Oak Eggar larvae (various instars, but mostly 3rd-5th) on the heather. It was the first time any of us had noticed these caterpillars before and I'm delighted to find other examples on your website! Just wondering how you photograph all the moths - do you go out at night with a white sheet and flashlight?

Stuart said...

I'm not that organised. I just leave on the outside lights next to the front door and the moths land on my house wall. I then get the shots.