Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Of Moths, Violets, Fritillaries and Birds Eggs


Clouded Boeder

Many-Plumed Moth

Green Carpet

Mottled Umber

Muslin Moth

Lunar Marbled Brown

Angle Shades

Lesser Swallow Prominent

Pale Prominent

Poplar Hawkmoth

A reasonable selection from the night before last. Not as many as I'd expected, but it could be that the recent cold spell has slowed things down in Moth Land, just as it has prolonged the sloe blossom and the bluebells.

Talking of Botany, I did a violet survey along the lane yesterday and counted hundreds of them. They are important because they represent the larval foodplant of one of our loveliest families of butterfly- the Fritillary. I am involved with a project later this Spring aimed at improving habitat (and therefore survival) of one of the most threatened of the Fritillaries, the Small Pearl Bordered. Yesterday's survey was not specifically SPB related, but was to enable me to contact the council and find out when they've got verge cutting scheduled, because if it's before June/ July that will be a disaster for the Silver Washed Fritillary who lives here.

Silver Washed are flutters of ancient woodland and I was thrilled when one visited our garden last summer to nectar on the world's most expensive buddleia (you may remember it's arrival two summer's ago costing a fortune and measuring the size of a five pence piece. It's earnt it's place in the garden now I feel). 

Silver Washed lay their eggs in July and August on the north side of tree trunks about one metre up from the ground among mosses and lichens. When the larvae hatch out a fortnight later, they immediately hibernate in the crevices of bark where they remain until Spring. In May when the violets are out, they wake up and descend to the ground to feed on the new violet growth. They are fully grown by early June, when they pupate, attaching themselves to a leaf which they so closely resemble that they are very hard to find in this state. They remain as pupae until July when they emerge as adults, who spend a lot of time at the tops of trees but do descend to nectar (often on bramble).

This is why I am so keen to make certain the council doesn't cut the verges before any larvae have had a chance to grow properly and get back up on to the trees out of the way. I hope they will listen. Britain's verges represent an increasingly important resource in terms of wild flowers, nectar and larval foodplants for our insects. The more development that happens and the more agriculture intensifies, the more important these verge-side residues of what once was widespread become. I hope the council will understand the significance of this and take their guardianship responsibilities seriously. If you fancy a walk down your local road noting the presence of violets you could drop your local council a line and repeat what I've said in this post. The more people that raise awareness of this the better.

I'll leave you with a rather lovely egg shell the dogs and I found while out walking this morning. It's a Song Thrush. They are the most amazing blue. The second pic is a couple of Blackbird's from last spring for comparison,

And finally, guess who I found nectaring on some wild cuckoo flower (growing in the garden rather than grown from the basal leaf) yesterday morning? Only Mrs Orange Tip :o)

Happy Days,

CT :o)


  1. "Sprawler"!!! - that is the moth version of me, I tell you!

  2. Gorgeous moths, especially that muslin moth, he's so fluffy. Does Poppy have her eye on that poplar hawk moth? I think she may be feigning nonchalance and just waiting for a loose moment. I'm interested to know that about violets. I've seen quite a few this year, but none in our grass verges. I shall keep my eyes peeled though. Love the eggs, the colours are exquisite on both types. CJ xx

  3. Gosh, those moths are beautiful and I agree with CJ, the first word that sprang to mind was 'fluffy'! Fingers crossed that the council pays attention. That thrush egg is gorgeous - Farrow and Ball should take note! xx

  4. Happy days indeed! I must look a bit more closely at the moths here to see what's around. x

  5. Fabulous!! I love your photos x

  6. Lovely to see some moths, been so quite here, most nights just one or nothing at all, even when we have a warm day. Was just lucky to see the Puss Moth in the window.
    I like Mottled Umber Moth they are so flat !
    I'm in the middle of doing a Ecology survey (low key) in my area. We are hoping they don't build on every bit of "green sites" that are left. A lot of work to do but have met some very interesting people...
    Amanda xx

    1. Good for you, my friend. I always learn loads when I go out surveying too xx

  7. I had a little moth on my window this morning He had nestled on the screen and had flown off before the sun came around that window. It must be spring, the moths have arrived, eh. Lovely post. Hugz to Teddie from Jack.

  8. I am glad to be able to continue my moth studies via your blog!

  9. Adore the Muslin Moth.
    The egg shells are incredible. What a find !
    Wonderful post today.

    cheers, parsnip

  10. Brilliant image of the Orange Tip on Cuckoo flower and moths...ooh some fantastic furry ones there!

  11. Hey CT,
    The moths are back, and they are all beautiful. I've noticed a lot of violets around here while out walking. Actually I think the Spring flowers have been abundant this year. Mild and wet weather perhaps? My cuckoo flower is still in the seedling stage in the greenhouse. It's taking its' time growing. I guess I will have to live vicariously through your wonderful picture of the orange tip.
    Leanne xx

  12. By the way, I bought a white buddleia from Poundland (for a pound) and it's growing away beautifully in CT's garden.
    L xx

  13. Love the mottled umber. To me it looks like an Ancient Cave Painting. Why do I find these so beautiful?


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x