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13 May 2017

13 May 2017 – Plants for Moths

Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)

A collection of colours melting into each other, even the pale ‘ribs’ on both wings seem part of last year’s fallen leaf, the Flame Shoulder nearly disappears in the photograph.  The use of the moth-trap means it is a regularly seen resident of the gardens.  If the trap wasn’t here the chances of seeing this moth would be remote. This species is resident in the garden because of the dock and the plantains growing in both the quarry and gravel next to the lawns, both providing food for the caterpillars.

Plantain (Plantago)

If it is growing in the lawn this little plant is less than welcome with many gardeners.  The leaves spread out and where they cover the ground little else can grow; but the munching caterpillars of the Flame Shoulder will help keep a balance. 

Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata)

This Scalloped Hazel from last night’s trap is towards the darker end of its colour spectrum. A paler version is apparently quite common but the defining characteristics on the wings (particularly the two spots) are always present.  The moth is on the wing in May and June and the larvae will feed happily on both deciduous and coniferous trees, including the hazel tree in the centre of the quarry garden.

Hazel tree (Corylus)

V Pug (Chloroclystis v-ata)

This moth confused me.  The markings are clear with the V on each wing as clear as day. When I attempted to verify the identification using the excellent UK moths website, the photograph on the site shows a moth as green as Ireland.  Completely and totally green. My frisky example had to be photographed in the specimen tube.  As you can see it is brown – but I had forgotten that green is the most fugitive of colours for moths, most losing the brightness of the colour very quickly.  Not a new species for the garden, this ‘easy to identify’ V Pug feeds on elder, brambles and other plants.

Elder (Sambucus)

A spray of Elder leaves looking good enough to eat – which they will be by a number of moths including the swallow-tailed moth, the dot moth and the brown ermine. All good reasons for keeping an elder bush alive in your garden.  Don’t ever chop it down though – the Elder Mother will exact retribution.

Clouded-bordered Brindle (Apamea crinata)

The fern in the photograph is not the food-plant where the Clouded-bordered Brindle is concerned.  The moth had settled on the plant close to the moth-trap.  The larvae feed on various grasses so are relatively easy to please.

Three other species from last night’s catch – Spectacle Moth, Pale Prominent and Lesser Swallow Prominent. 

There will be traps set for release on the following evenings : 19 and 26 May (the latter for the National Garden Scheme) 18.30 until 20.00.