As many local events in Nature’s calendar have been tracking a couple of weeks earlier than usual this year, I first started this year’s tiger hunting ten days ago but it took three visits to Lavernock Nature Reserve and much staring at the flowers of Hemp-agrimony before I finally found a tiger.
I am not, of course, talking about the big cats – I am vehemently opposed to all hunting! My hunt was for the gorgeous moth that is the Jersey tiger (Euplagia quadripunctaria).
Having spread northwards in southern England, from Devon in to Somerset, these moths tackled the watery expanse of the Bristol Channel in stages, recorded on the island of Flat Holm in 2008 but not making the final flight across to the south Wales coast until 2012.
Though they have avoided big city Cardiff – the single Cardiff record thus far was in 2017, the Jersey tiger now appears to be well established along a section of the Vale of Glamorgan coastline, from Penarth to Barry, and presumably it will spread further as climate and environmental conditions allow.
Last Monday, 17 August, I spotted these two, feeding quite close together, at Lavernock (the first two photos here are one moth; the other three show the second tiger). Though they have been recorded on various flowers, I’ve only ever seen them on Hemp-agrimony, which is one of the food plants used by their larvae. I live in hope of finding one of their funky-looking caterpillars but I was over the moon to see my first tigers of the year.