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.
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.
The Mocha moth visited Oliver Wadswoth’s light trap on the Study Group’s evening meeting on 20th August 2016. This is a new moth species for Wyre so we were all very pleased to see it. The larvae feed on Field Maple which only occurs occasionally within the Forest.
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.
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.
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.
The much commoner Micropterix calthella is often seen feeding on the pollen of buttercups in May and June, sometimes several moths to one flower.
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?
Mick Farmer has sent me his attractive photographs of a Brimstone moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) and a Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) both of which were found in his Bewdley garden recently. The moth flies at night and there are 2 generations a year. The caterpillars feed on leaves of Blackthorn, hawthorns and a few other species, and they overwinter either as caterpillars or as pupae. The Brimstone moth caterpillars feed on Alder Buckthorn in the Wyre area so it is always worth planting one or two of these shrubs in your garden to attract this beautiful daytime flyer. The adults hibernate overwinter.
The beautiful Angle Shades moth is usually on the wing between May and October. Although it can be found in any month of the year, it is unusual to find it in January – an indication of the unseasonably warm winter weather we have been having. Jon Cartwright found this on his house wall on 14th January 2016. Although the caterpillars usually pupate in the soil, I have seen an adult emerge in April from a hole in a wall that has crumbly lime mortar.
It is good to know that Dark Green Fritillary butterflies are being recorded again this year in various parts of the forest. Their flight season is usually between the middle of June to the end of August. Thanks to Jon Cartwright who sent in these shots.