Posted on August 19, 2022
A small visitor came through an open window and settled on my windowsill. A moth called a Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) because of the delightful pattern and texture on its wings. Only about 2 cm across the closed wings. It’s favourite food plants are Bedstaws, and it had probably been attracted to all the Lady’s and Hedge Bedstraws still flowering on the Greenwood House mini-meadow which is just a few metres from my flat.
Posted on July 7, 2022
I have been walking around the village over the last few weeks looking at the bright yellow flowers of ragweed plants . There is not a lot of it around this year. More specifically I have been looking for some caterpillars that feed on the plant. And at last I have spotted what I was looking for – the vivid orange and black stripes of Cinnabar larvae (Tyria jacobaeae) munching away. Only the two specimens so far but I will keep on looking. Surprisingly these develop into black and red winged adult moths without a speck of orange.
Posted on June 23, 2022
There are not so many splashes of bright yellow-flowered ragwort around as in some previous years. I have found one small group of plants beside a wheat field. The other day there were several small black and red moths fluttering nearby. Mostly they were elusively moving and resting deep in the shady undergrowth and only fleetingly appearing in clear view of sunlit spots. It was very difficult to get a good shot. But here are a few pictures of the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae). It lays its eggs on Ragwort, and later I am sure to find some of its distinctive caterpillars eating the nearby flowers.
Posted on October 12, 2021
Thanks again to Marilyn for this picture of a pale Tussock Moth caterpillar (Calliteara or Dasychira pudibunda) on the path near Greenwood House. The adult moth is less colourful. I think I saw a very old and worn female moth on the grass in the CD Nature Reserve in August. The scales had almost entirely disappeared from the wings, leaving only faint markings, so my identification might be wrong.
Posted on July 31, 2021
If you look carefully at the bright yellow flowers of Ragwort at this time of year, you might be lucky enough to find the orange and black banded caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae). The adult moth has a different colour scheme but none the less striking with its black and red patterned wings.
Posted on May 7, 2021
I know that most people living in Greenwood House do not have their own gardening space but many have window boxes and outdoor pot plants, so this may be of interest. Also, over the past 18 months or so, if we hadn’t realised it previously, we certainly learnt how connecting with nature outdoors – walking around the grounds and surrounding countryside – can enhance the way we feel both physically and mentally. Nurture for Nature – Taking care of yourselves and our pollinators this spring is a campaign by the organisation Butterfly Conservation. They consider how important it is to support and encourage wildlife such as butterflies and moths for their sake and for our own. Linking to the Butterfly Conservation website lets you see a short introductory video and download a beautifully illustrated leaflet that includes a prescription for being outdoors – the science behind wellbeing in nature; how to find mindfulness outdoors; species to spot this Spring; grow your herb garden; go wild for flowers; gardening tips; family-friendly fun; and why butterflies and moths matter. It is well worth having a look.
If you are interested in learning more about butterflies and how to identify them, I have a glossy foldout Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland produced by the Field Studies Council to give away free to the first one of my neighbours in Greenwood House (Charlton Down, Dorset) to contact me with their flat number so I can put it through their letterbox.