I’ve had two days recently when I went looking for butterflies and was feeling a little disappointed not to see very many when, all of a sudden, a moth flew by and landed at my feet … like Nature saying ‘Here’s a consolation prize!’ or, maybe, ‘Don’t be a Wally! Look at this amazing creature!’ … and so I did. And then another moth appeared, and another, and …
In the absence of butterflies, I seem to be discovering more moths. (I’m not sure why I’m not seeing many butterflies, though a friend says there’s often a May lull before a June explosion – let’s hope that’s true.)
White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda)
I found this beauty, wearing the rather regal furry coat that gives it its name, lurking in a clump of tall grass. Flying between May and July, with an occasional second generation appearing in September–October, the White Ermine can be found throughout Britain in a variety of habitats, from heath- and moorland to gardens, hedgerows and woodlands.
Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata)
This pretty member of the carpet group of moths was a lucky find at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, where I chanced to spot it resting in a clump of grass in a small woodland area. It’s another May to July flier, and its caterpillars enjoy nothing better than a good munch on bedstraws, the plants of the Galium species.
Yellow Shell and Mother Shipton
Both of these images were grab shots from a recent walk around the former rubbish tip that is now Grangemoor Park, in Cardiff. Moths have a habit of not wanting to be disturbed by camera lenses thrust in their direction, I notice, so my apologies that my photos are not very sharp.
I wish the Yellow shell (Camptogramma bilineata) (above left) hadn’t flitted off so quickly as I love its bright markings that resemble the line patterns found on some seashells, hence its name. It’s another common find throughout Britain, though it does have a preference for damper places. Its larvae feed on low-growing plants like sorrel and chickweed so look for it around that type of vegetation, usually between May and August.
Can you see why Mother Shipton (Euclidia mi) (above right) is so named? Those markings on her wings supposedly resemble a witch’s face and she is named for Old Mother Shipton, a 16th-century witch from Yorkshire who produced a series of dire prophecies. The moth, on the other hand, can be found all over Britain and Ireland, though has a particular fondness for the flower-rich meadows where grow the clovers, medics and lucernes its caterpillars like to eat.