Sunday, 9 June 2013
A few more Moths and Garden Update
I don't usually run my moth trap (15W Actinic Skinner) more than once or twice a week but a dearth of moths so far this year combined with the warmer, drier weather has resulted me in leaving it out every night for over a week.
I am still not catching many moths (I think everyone is finding their catches are much lower so far this year) but numbers are very slowly increasing.
Since last weekend I have added the following to the 2013 Year List:
Brimstone Moths are just beautiful but unfortunately the one lurking in the moth trap flew away as soon as I lifted the egg box so I've "cheated" here a little and this photo is of one taken last September.
Although Peppered Moth,like so many other species is declining in Britain (numbers declined by two thirds between 1968 and 2002), it is still fairly widespread and often found in back gardens. It has a fascinating scientific story attached to it as it is one of the best known examples of evolution by natural selection and is often called "Darwin's moth"
Peppered moths usually display the black and white speckled appearance shown in the photo above. The moth rests during the day on lichen covered tree trunks and the colouring provides superb camouflage. There are also, however, melanic (black) forms of the moth which occur naturally due to genetic mutation. The melanic moths are far less well camouflaged against lichen and thus far more likely to be eaten by predators. Fewer survive and under normal circumstances the melanic form is far less common than the "peppered" variety.
However, during the nineteenth century soot and pollution killed lichens on urban trees and it was noted that the black melanic form of the moth became far commoner in towns and cities than the peppered variety. The situation was reversed as with blackened trees and walls the melanic form was far better camouflaged and it was the peppered form that was predated. As moths have short life spans evolution by natural selection occurred quickly. For example, the first melanic Peppered Moth was first seen in Manchester in 1848 and yet by 1895 98% of peppered moths recorded in the city were melanic.
By the mid twentieth century legislation was introduced to reduce air pollution. As air quality improved and lichens returned to trees so the pale version of Peppered Moth which was now again better camouflaged started to become much more common than the black variety showing how natural selection always favours the variety of moth which is best suited to the current environmental conditions.
The six Blue Tit chicks fledged from the nestbox successfully this morning.
A few photos from around the garden
Cranesbill Geranium - very popular with bees
Azaleas and Rhodendron
More species are coming into flower in our garden wildflower meadow. After last year's beautiful display of Common Poppy after part of the meadow was reseeded, I think we are back to domination by Red Campion followed later by St John's Wort and Ox-eye Daisies
Hawthorn in the hedgerow is finally starting to flower
Ragged Robin!! :) by the pond and bog garden
I will be keeping an eye on this patch of nettles in the hope that we might get some butterfly caterpillars.
Two of my Gnomes - Mr Hufflepuff and Mr Grumbleweed! I always name them :) I've two new ones to go out in the garden when I can find the right place for them.
I think my love of garden gnomes began in childhood. My grandfather had a dozen or so round his garden pond and I remember every winter he used to take them inside and painstakingly repaint each and every one.
Reference: Butterfly Conservation website www.mothscount.org