Hummingbird Hawk Moth Macroglossum stellatarum

This migrant daytime flying moth arrives in Britain from southern Europe and northern Africa from April onwards. It can be seen hovering in front of flowers from which it feeds with its long proboscis. Eggs are laid on Ladies Bedstraw, Madder and Hedge Bedstraw and caterpillars may be found between June and October. Mick Farmer did well to capture this photograph of the moth feeding.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth, Bewdley, 2 June 2017 ©Mick Farmer

 

 

Painted Lady butterfly

Mick Farmer spotted this Painted Lady in his garden in Bewdley recently, one of the first to be seen locally. It has flown north from its emergence site, probably in North Africa. This cosmopolitan migrant can arrive any time in spring or summer prior to breeding here later in the summer. Eggs are generally laid on thistles and the adults that result in this country show some southerly migration in the autumn.

Painted Lady, Bewdley, May 2017 ©Mick Farmer

Pearl-bordered Fritillary – Boloria euphrosyne

On sunny days in May Pearl-bordered Fritillaries may be seen flying in Wyre. They are often difficult to track as they fly so quickly like golden jewels above the ground vegetation, but Roger Plant was able to get this beautiful photo of a female when the sun went in and it had stopped for a rest.

Female Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Longdon, 13 May 2017 ©Roger Plant

December Moth, Poecilocampa populi

The December Moth flies between late October to early January. The adults come to light and can sometimes be seen in the morning on house walls when lights have been left on overnight. The female lays her eggs on the twigs of broad-leaved trees. The overwintering eggs hatch in April when the caterpillars feed on the buds and new young leaves.

December Moth, Button Bridge, 7 December 2016 ©Jon Cartwright

Buff Tip moth caterpillars (Phalera bucephala)

Buff Tip moth eggs are laid in batches on various deciduous tree species. The caterpillars feed gregariously in the summer and often defoliate whole branches. The ones shown here are feeding on Hornbeam.

Buff Tip moth caterpillars on Hornbeam, Bliss Gate, 6 September 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Leopard moth (Zeuzera pyrina)

This beautiful and impressive moth is on the wing this month. The larvae live inside small branches of various deciduous trees, taking up to 3 years to mature. The adults are nocturnal and cannot feed, so need to reproduce speedily when they emerge. The males (as seen here) have impressively large comb-like antennae so that they can pick up the pheromone scents of emerging females. These moths are attracted to light but can sometimes be seen during the daytime resting on tree trunks.

Leopard Moth, Bliss Gate, 19 July 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Painted Lady Venessa cardui

This strong-flying immigrant butterfly has flown into Britain from further south. The main breeding grounds are along the edges of deserts in North Africa and Arabia. They arrive in the UK when weather conditions are favourable, generally in May and June, when they breed, laying their eggs on thistles. There is a southwards reverse migration to Africa from September onwards. What an amazing journey for a butterfly! Thanks to Mick Farmer for sending his excellent photograph of this Painted Lady feeding on Pyracantha in his garden.

Painted Lady, Bewdley garden, 6 Jun 2016 ©Mick Farmer

Micropterix aureatella

This moth is one of 5 species of primitive Micropterix micromoths which are unusual in having chewing mouth parts with which they eat pollen. We don’t find Micropterix aureatella very often in Wyre, although it is probably overlooked at just 4mm long. This one was found feeding on hawthorn blossom, but we have also found them on Bilberry plants.

Micropterix aureatella, Longdon pipe track, 3 June 2016

The much commoner Micropterix calthella is often seen feeding on the pollen of buttercups in May and June, sometimes several moths to one flower.

Micropteryx calthella, Bell Coppice, 21 May 2016

Elephant Hawkmoth

Steve Horton kept an Elephant Hawkmoth pupa over the winter and the adult emerged on 17th May 2016. Steve is perplexed with the apparent ‘eyespot’ that seemed to follow him as he moved. He’d not seen this before and wondered about the anatomy of the compound eye. Is this just the result of reflections from some of the facets, or something else?

Elephant Hawkmoth, 17 May 2016 ©Steve Horton

Elephant Hawkmoth, 17 May 2016 ©Steve Horton