Thursday, 22 March 2012

More like summer than spring

We've had an extended dry spell and the days have been bright and sunny, encouraging some species out long before I'd expect to see them.

Moths are on schedule, including March Moth:

March Moth (male)
And Clouded Drab:

Clouded Drab
It seems that this specimen has been reading the books for a change, because it is a perfect match for one of the images in the standard reference. All of my previous photographs show specimens that look nothing like the reference images.

Both of these moths are feeders on Willow catkins as an adult, and feed on a wide range of broad-leaf plants as a larva.

The Ptychopterid fly Ptychoptera contaminata is regarded as a summer species, (my previous records are from June and September) but our lunchtime temperature of 15 degrees brought this one out today:

Ptychoptera contaminata
For some reason, this species hasn't reached my species index, so that's another new species for my total (now 1415 species).

Today also brought out my first specimen of Small Tortoiseshell butterfly:

Small Tortoiseshell
These hibernate as adults and usually emerge in March or April to breed the summer generation. Small Tortoiseshells are entirely dependent on Nettles for larval food.

I spotted this early instar of the Garden Tiger moth caterpillar wandering across a path. The image shows a few of the long white hairs which will become a feature in later instars.

Larva of Garden Tiger moth 
A fine set of specimens for a mid-March spring day.

I was on the road quite a bit today and noticed a Sycamore and Horse Chestnut in leaf, a couple of 'white' butterflies flying over verges and Cow Parsley and Sow Thistles in flower. What an amazing spring.


The Weaver of Grass said...

Spring must have reached you in Donegal well before us here in North Yorkshire Stuart. Dog violets are just beginning to come out under the hedges and I saw the first marsh marigold this week. Here and there the hawthorn is showing green in the hedges and the wild gooseberry is in flower. Nettles are about two inches high and of the cow parsley there is only a very short sign.

I don't often comment on your blog but I do always read it.

Gill said...

I haven't seen any dog violets in my bit of Yorkshire, Weaver, but the sweet violets - both purple and white - are absolutely fabulous near Castle Howard. Stuart is usually a bit ahead of us at this time of year (but I expect we will catch up later).