This dumpy moth is called The Drinker – not strong cider or a craft beer, but simply the dew that gathers on long strands of grass in ditches and below hedgebanks. And it’s the caterpillar, not the moth, that sups it up – on a still night it’s gentle chomping can actually be heard. The caterpillar is large, hairy and carries some bright colours amidst its dark fur. Haven’t seen one for quite a while (the last one was near Nottingham Hill this side of Cheltenham) and this is the first moth in the trap for a two or three years. I always think it looks a bit like a hedgehog.
Patches of oak trees are good places to spot Purple Hairstreak butterflies at the moment – saw one yesterday with wings closed but perfect views of its delicate patterning. Binoculars were helpful!
Also went out looking for White-letter Hairstreaks by the scraggy elms on the Ettington by-pass. No luck though.
Purple Emperors seen at Oversley Wood today. Female in fast flight at eye level – quite a sight – followed by two or three males flitting high up in the pines. A great big tick now goes on my butterfly list!
One enterprising person had left some sardine as a lure and another person had earlier managed to attract a male down to some fish paste. Dog poo also works well!
… it’s raining! Went out to check the moth trap was watertight and well under cover for what promises to be a wet night – and almost stepped on a hedgehog. The first one in the garden for a couple of years and no doubt on the march for the slugs and snails which will now relish the damp ground. Please hang around for a few more evenings.
The moth trap was running on Banbury Street for the weekly Garden Moth Survey last night (they were released again at dusk, safe from the birds). Result – 92 moths of almost 50 different species. Pink and khaki huge Elephant Hawkmoths are always wonderful to see. A frog had hopped into one of the plant-pots (it’s a foot high, so a big hop) and another smaller one managed to sneak into the house while I was looking at moths in the garden. Luckily I noticed it, and it wasn’t trapped indoors all night.
The white moth is a Clouded Silver – lovely delicate things. There were half a dozen Garden Grass Veneers, tiny green-eyed dragon-like beasties. The final one, a rather poor photo of a rather dull moth, was only the fourth record of this species in Warwickshire – Spindle Knot-horn (Nephopterix angustella) – I’ve had three of them now. Must be living in the spindle in the hedges along Banbury Road.