Sunday 29 March 2020

Lockdown Day 6 - Rest day, moths and butterflies

It has been rather cold out there today, in fact there was a very brief snow shower this morning, obviously the weather hasn't got the message about it changing to British Summer Time! (or has it?!!)
So, today has been a rest day inside. Plans for next week include putting some more onion sets in, starting some sprouting broccoli and probably more peas if we have the space. I have planted mroe gherkin seeds as only one of the previous batch germinated.

Whilst I am generally interested in most things in the natural world, the particular interests I have include birds, moths, spiders and bees. In the garden and allotment we get some rather interesting moths from time to time.

This one is a Buff Ermine (Spilosoma lutea)
moth, the "ermine" being self evident in the shaggy bit around the head! This one turned up on the door lintel one morning.

The go-to website I use to help identification is

though I have a couple of guide books in the house to help too.

One of these, the Concise Guide to Moths of Great Britain and Northern Ireland features the drawings of an amazing wildlife artist called Richard Lewington who has illustrated a number of field guides.

A link to this book can be found at the foot of this blog post.

We have had a range of butterflies in the garden and allotment, including painted lady butterflies, which have a multi-generational migration strategy from Africa, last year was a very good year for them. We get the Common Blue, Comma, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown ones too along with the Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Peacock, Orange Tip and white ones.

I'd love a hawk moth in the garden but we've only ever had a hawk moth caterpillar and that was many years ago.

A few miles from our house is the nature reserve at Askham Bog and just opposite the entrance to the reserve, in a small island of nature between the road into York and the A64 is home to a colony of Six Spot Burnet moths (Zygaena filipendulae). They are in my opinion one of the most distinctive of the smaller moths and this photo was taken in June 2016 when dozens were on the wild flowers in this rather unlikely habitat!

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