Q&A

Question from Tom Martin:
Found this on the pavement near my house. Do you know what it is?

Answer: It’s a hawk moth caterpillar, Tom. Our expert says it’s a lime hawkmoth (Mimas tiliae); the blue spike/horn on its tail and the pink splotches are diagnostic. Lime hawk moths are common in towns like Trowbridge, where the caterpillars eat the leaves of the lime, plane, cherry, and birch trees used to line the streets. At this time of year, the caterpillars come down from their tree and set out along the pavement to look for leaf litter in which to pupate. Put your caterpillar in your garden or under a nearby hedge, somewhere where the pupa will be safe for the winter,.


Question from Tina Kirk:
I wasn’t sure if you would be interested but my daughter found this foreign wasp in some of your woodlands on Wednesday.

Answer: Hi Tina, this is a European hornet (Vespa crabro). They are British natives, the largest of our native wasps, and we see them hunting insect prey in the park every year, especially at this time of year, when the oak gall wasps hatch. We hope there is a nest somewhere in our woods but we haven’t found it yet. European hornets are quite mild mannered despite their size, ferocious appearance and their very loud buzz, and they don’t share the common wasps’ taste for sugar so they won’t be interrupting your picnic. Thanks for the photograph.


From Clive Knight:
I spotted this fungus when I was walking round the park with my dog. It’s on the ash at Fiveways, by the picnic area. Do you know what it is called?

Answer: No, Clive; I am afraid we don’t. FoSCP are really good at mammals and invertebrates, and fair to middling on wildflowers; we have Tree Officer Rich Murphy to help us with our trees, and ornithologist, David Culverhouse, to help identify the difficult birds. However, we know next to nothing about fungi and we don’t know anybody who does. We understand how essential they are in maintaining the park’s biodiversity but we struggle every year, as the summer ends, to name any of the hundreds of different fruiting bodies that appear in and on every conceivable habitat.
I have sent your picture to the Cotswold Fungus Group who are the County Recorders for fungi; they will know.


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