Butterflies and bugs

female small blue
Common blue butterfly female

It seems to have been a slightly better year for butterflies and moths this year.  I have seen more that I remember in previous years, or maybe I’m just able to be out in the sun at the right time.  As well as male common blue butterflies I saw a female this week.  Confusingly her colouring is much more multicoloured than the male, and I thought she was a different species until I looked her up.

heather bank
Heather bank in gully field

For the last few weeks I have noticed small black and red moths perched at the top of the gully bank in the sunshine.  Taking a closer look at this one the wings seemed quite transparent.  I think they are six spot burnet moths.

six spot burnet moth drying
six spot burnet

A bit further down the bank on the heather bush I found this cocoon, so I think these are new moths just hatching and puffing up their wings (I’m sure there is a proper name for that process!).  Apparently the caterpillars feed on birdsfoot trefoil, which I have fairly widespread over the holding, particularly where the grass is slightly shorter and the soil shallower.

six spot burnet moth cocoon
Cocoon in heather

I was pleased to get this photo of this chimney sweeper moth.  They are always quite a number of them at this time of year in the grass, but they are easily disturbed and, being small and dark, slightly difficult to focus on.  You can see how they come by their name – like flecks of burnt paper blowing about the grass!  The tips of the wings are rimmed with white, but the rest of the insect is sooty black.  The caterpillars feed on pignut flowers and seeds – so there is certainly plenty of that for them!

chimney sweeper
Chimney sweeper moth

This caterpillar I was also very happy to see.  Especially so when I looked it up.  It is the caterpillar of the emporer moth.  Which is a rather impressive moth with big eyespots on the wings.  The moths are usually about in April, but I’ve only seen an adult once or twice previously.  At least this caterpillar proves that there are still some adults about.  The caterpillars feed on heather, bramble, hawthorne as well as several other trees so should have plenty of menu options here.

emporer moth caterpillar
Emporer moth caterpilar


Finally a little show of some of the the other moths, butterflies and caterpillars recently seen, that I’ve been able to photograph and tentatively identify.  None are particularly rare, but each is a bit of magic.

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8 thoughts on “Butterflies and bugs

  1. I’ve noticed more and different types of insects this year. For the first time, I’ve noticed ladybird larvae, which has been quite thrilling and I saw my first common blue butterfly. I think the extra rain here will have done the world of good!

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    1. The common blue are quite beautiful, although very small. We don’t seem to get ladybirds here. But then, we don’t get many aphids either. Plenty of hoverflies and lacewings, which are also good predators.


      1. I’ll have to look up lacewings as I’m not sure what they look like. We’ve got lots of hover flies at the moment, though.
        Normally, there don’t seem to be many ladybirds about but with the apple trees being covered in aphids, they must be in heaven right now. Well, apart from battling with the ants.

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  2. When we moved into our home 2 years ago, we were very excited to see Cinnabar Moths on our lawn. And lots of bright stripey caterpillars. We had to look them up. We now look forward to seeing them each year. It’s teaching us to not be so precious about the weeds in our lawn. I love the chimney sweep moth. 😊

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    1. Cinnabar moths are the ones that eat ragwort aren’t they? I have a bit of ragwort, although I try not to let it seed since it is so toxic for livestock (and us come to that!). No cinnabar moth that I’ve seen though.

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      1. The info I read said they like groundsel, and that was what they were on in our lawn. Just looked it up, it’s part of the ragwort family so maybe that’s on their menu of choice too! It’s good that they eat weeds. Unlike slugs!

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