Thursday, 23 February 2012

More moths

The rain continues, but there is an occasional gap when it's safe for insects to fly. If it's dry at night, then we have a chance that a few moths will come to light, and I keep my porch lights (which can be seen for at least 5 miles) on just in case. My house sits on a south-facing slope over a river valley, and there's a bit of rough bog about a mile away, so I can attract moths from quite a range of different habitats when timing and conditions are right.

There are perhaps half a dozen different species of moth flying at the moment, with many more to be expected when the Willow catkins open, which should be about 2 weeks away.

This is the Chestnut:

Chestnut moth - Conistra vaccinii
The Chestnut overwinters as an adult, emerging from its hiding place to feed when conditions are favourable. I have seen and photographed this species a number of times, but this specimen is very much paler than I would expect, although it's obviously quite worn. The larvae feed on a wide range of broadleaf trees and also Docks.

Much easier to identify is the Dotted Border, which gets its name from the row of dots on the trailing edge of the wings:

Dotted Border - Agriopis marginaria
The Dotted Border overwinters underground as a pupa, emerging in February, and the larvae feed on a very wide range of trees and shrubs, and also heather. This is another moth where the female is flightless.

The weather has been much warmer than we had in the last two winters, with just a few nights of frost, so the spring is quite early, with a few flowers just beginning to show. The Willow catkins are on the verge of opening, so that will bring out the early bees, hoverflies and Willow-dependent moths including the various Quakers.

Willow catkins about to open


Gill said...

That's a fabulous shot of the pussy willow - at just about the same stage as mine, maybe a day or two ahead. You can almost feel its texture....

Stuart said...

There's an area closer to the coast that might have them fully out. I'll check tomorrow. Three frogs seen tonight when I walked the dogs, and the little pond was filled with loudly croaking pairs. Spawn by the weekend, I'd say.