Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Common - but a welcome sight!

An Article by Heather Martin

It's always exciting to find uncommon species but after such a long, cold winter and a slow start to Spring it's reassuring to see some familiar common species re-emerging on the occasional warm and sunny May day.

The 18th was one such day. Speckled Yellow moths (Pseudopanthera macularia) fluttered along the main track through our wood, often pausing to rest on foliage at the edges. Their distinctive patterning of brown blotches on a yellow background makes it impossible to confuse them with any other species. They are a common sight in open woodland especially in the south of England from mid-May to late June. The larvae can be found feeding predominantly on Wood Sage (Teucrium scorodonia) between June and August, then the pupa spends the winter either underground or in plant debris.

A much smaller moth with metallic wings and very long antennae - a female Adela reaumurella, was also spotted sitting on a leaf in the sun. This is another common Spring species often seen dancing in small swarms around the outer branches of Hazel and Oak trees. The male has even longer antennae.

A male micro moth with equally impressive but pectinate or comb-like antennae is Incurvaria masculella. Commonly found in woodland and gardens throughout the country, its larva mines the leaves of Hawthorn.

We watched a pair of Green-veined White butterflies (Pieris napi) dance in a clearing then settle on Bugle flowers (Ajuga reptans) - common maybe but their presence certainly added to our enjoyment of the morning.

What makes these common species precious is the very fact that they can be seen in numbers on warm days, giving us a sense that life is thriving all around us and contributing to our feeling of general well-being.

All pictures by Heather Martin; 21/05/2013

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