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

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

Brimstone moth and Brimstone butterfly

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.

Bimstone moth, Bewdley, 29 April 2016 ©Mick Farmer

Brimstone butterfly, Bewdley, 3 May 2016 ©Mick Farmer


Angle Shades moth Phlogophora meticulosa

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.

Angle Shades moth, Button Bridge, 14 January 2016 ©Jon Cartwright

Winter Moth Operophtera brumata

The Winter Moth, as its name implies, can be seen from October through to January. The male which Jon Cartwright has photographed is very different from the female which is flightless and has only rudimentary wings. The males can be seen at lighted windows and both sexes are found on tree bark after dark.

Male Winter Moth, Kinlet, 30 January 2015 ©Jon Cartwright

Female Winter Moth, Bliss Gate, 26 November 2011 ©Rosemary Winnall