Sunday, 16 July 2017

Poisonous visitors

It's Penny's birthday - Yazooo! Here is her birthday moth: Acleris forsskaleana with its appropriate loveheart badge.

There were no results in the way of eggs from my overnighting Leopard moth, but I had a nice surprise when I went to the vegetable garden with a friend to pick him a beetroot. There, bold as brass, were these four Cinnabar moth caterpillars, helpfully munching their way through my weeds. The absence of Leopard eggs was probably just as well from a horticultural point of view as the caterpillars sometimes do so much damage to fruit trees that they can be classified as an 'economic pest'. Our apples and plums can breathe again.

The Cinnabar caterpillars were relaxed about feeding openly because their vivid colours are a warning to birds and other predators that they are poisonous. Interestingly, the yellow/black combination is the one which we humans use for radiation hazards. There must be some interesting chemistry involved in the change of the caterpillars' colours to the equally striking red and greeny-black of the adult Cinnabar moth.

Last night's trap meanwhile attracted the first Gold Spot of the year, above, while a Brimstone moth added to the colour scheme across the eggboxes, especially as he or she was sleeping next to a ladybird.

We also had a  pallid Dun-bar, a moth which comes in five different colourways, a zebra-like micro which I will ID later and a Willow Beauty (I think; there are a number of these grey, governessy moths which much resemble one another).

As always, I scouted around the position of the trap this morning and was rewarded by nice Large Twin-spot Carpet and a Yellowtail (the latter once again obstinately refusing to stick up its tail. But I am patient).

Back in the trap, here is a Nut-tree Tussock, followed by what may be a Campion although the very similar Lychnis is more common. This is one for me to check with the experts on the Upper Thames Moths blog.  Then a Dingy Footman seeking refuge in an egg cone, a male Ghost Moth and finally an exhaused Ruby Tiger whose zonked-out state had the advantage of showing off the vivid red and spotted body which is usually modestly cloaked by the insect's folded wings.

No comments: