Peppered Moths (Biston betularia)

The commonly found Peppered Moths are a well-known example of Darwin’s natural selection. They are normally white with black speckles which enable them to be well camouflaged on lichen-covered trees in rural areas, unlike the naturally occurring melanic black form which are more readily predated. However, in places where there is more air pollution and less lichens, the black form predominate. Now we see both these colour forms and and intermediate one too.

Peppered Moths, Bliss Gate, 26 may 2018 (photo by Rosemary Winnall)

Peppered Moth, intermediate form, Bliss Gate, 13 July 2006 (photo by Rosemary Winnall)

Pyrausta moths

2 Pyrausta daytime-flying pyralid moths can be seen in Wyre during the summer. Pyrausta aurata, the commoner of the 2, can be found in gardens too where the caterpillars feed on mints, marjoram and other labiates. Mick Farmer spotted this one in Bewdley. The larvae of Pyrausta purpuralis feed on wild thyme and mints in Wyre.

Pyrausta aurata on Origanum, Bewdley, 18 July 2017 ©Mick Farmer

Pyrausta purpuralis, Town Coppice, 9 July 2009 ©Rosemary Winnall

Red-tipped Clearwing, Synanthedon formicaeformis

One male Red-tipped Clearwing moth was attracted to a pheromone lure in Bewdley this week, near the river below the Bewdley bypass bridge. Clearwings were rarely seen before pheromones were developed. These are artificially produced chemicals which are very like the pheromones produced by the female moths, and so they attract the males. All clearwing moths are daytime flyers, but are easily overlooked as they can look like wasps when they are flying.

Red-tipped Clearwing, Ribbesford, 3 July 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

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

 

 

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

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