Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Monday, 17 March 2014

After the wet

It seems that our several months of almost incessant rain has finally come to an end, and spring is happening. Although I expect that some species will have suffered due to flooding (water vole burrows, soil-hibernating invertebrates...), some are starting to appear. So here's a quick non-technical introduction to a couple of garden-dwelling moths that have made themselves known to me recently.

A mature larva of the Old Lady moth Mormo maura. Note the bright orange spiracles along the side, and the black marks in the rear half. Approx 60mm long.
Head of larva of Mormo maura - note the shiny, speckled head capsule with ocelli (simple eyes) and small antennae
M. maura is a common species and I have previously seen adults in our garden, including one roosting in a shed. Ivy (Hedera helix) is one of its main food plants and we have plenty of that so it is not a surprise to see this species.

A couple of months ago, a series of storms destroyed many garden fences (not to mention causing widespread flooding) in the UK and while clearing up the debris, I found several pupae that had been dislodged. Most were put in our 'bug hotel' but a few were taken indoors to be hatched. One of these emerged a couple of days ago and proved to another common species, the Bright-line Brown-eye Lacanobia oleracea. It feeds on a wide range of woody and herbaceous plants and again is no surprise, but did provide some photo opportunities prior to release.

L. oleracea - the bright line is along the rear edge of the wings, the brown eye refers to the kidney-spots in this species.
Close-up of the wings showing the scale-patterns.
Side view showing the hairy and tufted thorax.

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