The photographs above are shown by way of an update on the progress of the Emperor Moth caterpillars that hatched on 4thMay and were then about 2mm in length (See previous Moth Notes 9thMay). They are now close on 20mm long and have undergone at least one skin change since then.
The last set of Moth Notes were written on 9th May and since then 1,138 moths of some 90 species have passed through my hands, been identified and then released unharmed to do what they have to do, which is to find another of the same species, mate and then to get the eggs laid. These moths were attracted to moth traps set at Goosey Bank, near Olney on 2 nights, at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve on 13 nights and in my garden in Newport Pagnell on 18 nights.
It has not been easy to select from the 90 species which to include in these notes. I think they are all beautiful and special. Moths look at their best just after emergence from the pupa and this White Ermine is one such. It is a common moth whose caterpillars feed on a range of plants including common Nettle and Docks. The English name “ermine” comes from the winter fur of the stoat which is white with a black tip to the tail.
My second selection is also a freshly emerged specimen and this is a Clouded Border. The caterpillars feed on Aspen, Willows, Poplars and Sallows. The moths are on the wing May and June and often again in August as they are able to produce 2 generations of in a year.
Number 3 goes to the unmistakeable Buff-tip. When at rest, as in the photograph, the moth resembles a broken birch twig. This moth is on the wing late May to July and the caterpillars feed on Sallows, Birches, Oaks and many other trees.
My fourth moth for these notes was a new one for my garden list and was recorded on 17th May. The Chamomile Shark is one of 9 moths that form the Cucullinae or Shark family. The moth rests with wings closed tightly against the body, with collar raised into a pointed projection like a shark’s dorsal fin. Caterpillars feed on Chamomile, Scentless Mayweed and Feverfew. All previous records for this moth in North Bucks were recorded by George Higgs in his garden at Willen in 2006.
To round off the May selection there is a splendid micro-moth. It does not have common English name so is known by the Latin name of Ancylis badiana. There are about 1700 micro-moths in Great Britain and Ireland and far outnumber the macro-moths of which there are about 900. The caterpillar of Ancylis badianafeeds on peas, vetches and clovers and this specimen was recorded at Linford Lakes on 23 May.
Text and photos kindly supplied by Gordon Redford. Click here to read the previous edition of Moth Notes