During the fairly recent spell of unseasonably warm weather with clear blue sunny skies every day, a Buff-tip moth was with us for a few days exhibiting what I think is very odd behaviour.
Around 10pm on May 24th, my wife Mairi and I went outside to look for a couple of hedgehogs which had recently appeared in our garden and to check the walls and fence next to my moth trap.
Mairi noticed a large moth fly in and alight on the unopened bud of an ornamental Poppy about 3m from the light of the moth trap. I was surprised it had not flown to the trap so photographed it with flash.
I was even more surprised to see it still on the bud at around 5.30 am the next morning. The sun was continuously on the bud and moth for at least the next seven hours. Thereafter it was in shade until the last couple of hours of sunshine on that day.
The night time temperature was ideal for moths to take flight, and the attractions of the moth trap were still available, but the next morning (May 26th) it was still there! So I took a photo showing its exposed position and another of the bud starting to open.
I took the following photo later that day as the bud continued to open.
With only a very small adjustment of position it remained on the Poppy head until it was fully in flower:
and still remained when the petals started to fall. When all petals had disappeared, it finally left the seed head…
…on the night of May 28th/29th to the fence adjacent to the moth trap!
It then never moved until the night of May 30th/ 31st when it finally disappeared.
The Buff-tip is an exclusively nocturnal species and generally such species abhor direct sunlight, but this moth was in direct sunlight for much of several days. That, and its unwillingness to fly on a series of warm nights seems extremely peculiar.
My knowledge of moth behaviour is very weak, so I have no likely explanation, but Buff-tip is notable for its confidence in the effectiveness of its well- camouflaged appearance, so that it does tend sit in very exposed situations around moth traps, rather than hiding away…..but for four days on the Poppy head and two days on the fence!!!
Moths are so great! Get a moth trap, or put out a sheet with a light behind it on a warm sultry evening, while enjoying a glass of vino.