Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Lepidoptera watch continues...we had a Hummingbird Hawk Moth in the garden this weekend. Fabulously exciting insects - large, exotic and scarce - I've never seen one. I didn't get a photo unfortunately as it was a fleeting visit but here's one culled from the BBC. Apparently the mild summer and autumn weather has attracted quite a few migrants from the continent.

Our one was enjoying the nectar available to long-tongued species from the Nicotiana by the back door. This plant has been a great hit with moths all late summer, notably in the evening when its scent is quite heady although this particular visitor was in the morning. It was spotted by my visiting Uncle Bill, rather fittingly, as he was the first person to introduce me to moths and butterflies when I were a lad!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Pupa on the wall.

There are three of these beautiful and distinctive pupa attached to the side of my house and they appeared about 2 weeks ago - 19mm in length. (*photographed with a DSLR, 35-80mm lens and macro extension rings) They are clearly the pupa of a butterfly or moth and are all of the same species. The caterpillars must have crawled quite some distance to get to the side of the house, as the wall is separated from the plants and flowerbeds by a wide concrete walkway, so I can only assume that some genetic trigger in their little brains says that they must find a wall of significant height so that when hatching from the pupa they are well above the ground. Each of the beautiful pupae have a square of 4 highlighted spots, almost as if they have been delicately gold leafed. Q - How does a small caterpillar judge the height of the thing that it is climbing ? What species are these ? - I have so much to learn.

Surface detail:

Jo Donnelly, (Ecologist) - Identified my last caterpillar as probably that of a 'Grass knot moth'
Thankyou Jo.
Note: Thanks Ads - as I note that you had already come to the same ID conclusion in the comment stream attached to blog post, thanks also.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Common Hawker

At RSPB Minsmere - I think a Common hawker Aeshna juncea. Just amazing insect life there on a sunny Autumnal day.


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Another caterpillar

Following on from Dunc's caterpillar, this is one I found in the garden. I think it is the caterpillar of the Pale Tussock moth Calliteara pudibunda. Given that it 'used to be a pest of hop', and we have hops growing in our hedge, it would make sense if it were that.

It shouldn't be a suprise that there seem to be a lot of caterpillars around at the moment, as it was an excellent year for butterflies and moths. They are great - such extraordinary things which come in all sorts of amazing variations and colours, and with the added textural delight of hairs and assorted protuberances. This one could be a Jim Henson creation...