What IS this?

By Ian Bushell

After a morning’s work with Wednesday’s work party, Simon and I set off from the top of Village Green to make our way to the picnic area for coffee.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw what looked like an Oak twig caught or snagged on an Oak leaf. I looked a bit harder and it appeared to be a strange caterpillar: we had no idea what it could be. We got down on our knees [well, Simon did] to get a good photograph so that we could identify it. Only when doing this, did Simon realise it was not a caterpillar but two moths mating.

[1] Buff tip moth (CC0) pixabay.com [2] Buff tip moth caterpillars by Tristram Brelstaff (CC BY 2.0) flickr.com

I sent the pictures to Hugo, our lepidopterist, who immediately came back with an answer: Buff Tip Moths (Phalera bucephala) now added to our Species List.

Buff tips are common night-flying moths that can been seen between May and July. The females lay their eggs in clusters on the underside of the leaves of sallow, birch, oaks and hazel, and the yellow and black caterpillars can be seen from July to early October before they overwinter as pupae under the ground.

Header picture: Buff tip moths mating – by Simon Knight.

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