Wednesday 28 February 2024

One of Three

 My granddaughter and her schoolfriends rescued a tiny caterpillar - pic above - last week after one of them, blessed with especially eagle eyes, spotted it by an ivy leaf below a wintering beech hedge. With the soft-heartedness common in pre-teen girls, they decided to 'rescue' it and so it came home to Granny and Grandpa at the end of school. (It was our week to be on grandchild duty).

I didn't have my caterpillar Bible but the internet is an even better resource and we soon had a shortlist of possibilities. Because of the cattie's extreme youth, however, a precise ID was beyond our joint powers. But our best guess was the Yellow-tail and that meant searching for hawthorn and blackthorn, with leaves of the species' other foodplants, oak, sallow and other deciduous trees being unlikely at this time of the year.

The girls' main concern was providing the right food and they had already put a selection of other leaves in their collecting box. I meanwhile got on to the ever-excellent Upper Thames Moths blog where the guru Dave Wilton wondered whether the cattie might be a somewhat out-of-season White Ermine. So nettle, deadnettle and dandelion were added to the box.

Then the dots at the side prompted another UTM guru Tim Arnold to suggest that it could be a Jersey Tiger, a species common in Summer around the grandchildren's home. Fortunately their diet is described as 'a wide range of herbaceous plants' so we simply stuck in a bit of forget-me-not.

So there matters rest. The cattie was about a centimetre long last week. We will be back in ten days' time to see how it is getting on.

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