Monday, January 29, 2007

Garden Butterfly Review 2006

I have been recording the Butterflies that I see in the garden each year since 2003. The method I use is to write down the first day of each month that a particular species is seen and then enter the data onto a spreadsheet for year-to-year comparison.

Highlights this year must be the first ever sighting in the garden of the Lycaena phlaeas (Small Copper), which is pictured here nectaring on the wonderful Verbena bonariensis plant.

Two other records of note were as follows:
1. Pieris rapae (Small White) was seen in 6 consecutive months between April 22nd and Sept 4th.
2. Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral) was seen in 5 of the months including Oct 1st, Nov 3rd and even Dec 30th. Surely this will never happen again !!!

In a splendid year for butterflies the major disappointment for me was the absence of Aglais urticae (Small Tortoiseshell). This is the second year running that this beauty has not been seen in the garden. In fact, I have not seen it anywhere in this locality, which surely is an indicator of impending doom. However, while walking Hadrian's Wall in July, this did seem to be one of the commonist species around, which may mean this butterfly is moving steadily northwards with climate change. Only time will tell.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Garden Moth Review 2006

As there are few critters about at the moment, I thought this would be a good time to review my 2006 garden Moth list. Most of the Moths that I observe are caught in my home made Moth trap, which I religiously put out in the back garden at least once a month throughout the year.

In 2006, I saw a total of 142 Moths with a species count of 50. This compares with 2005 when I saw 99 Moths with a species count of 51. The most abundant Moth was Epiphyas postvittana (Light
Brown Apple Moth) with a count of 28 individuals.

One interesting point, which could be a good indicator of climate change for the future, is the number of different migrant species seen.

This year 4 different species were noted and these were as follows:
Nomophila noctuella (Rush Veneer).
Macroglossum stellatarum (Humming-bird Hawk-moth)
Autographa gamma (Silver Y)

Plutella xylostella (Diamond-back Moth)

The Diamond-back Moth is pictured above and 2 individuals were noted in the trap on the 16th June. This tiny moth is well-known for its migratory tendencies. Sometimes many thousands can appear during the night at coastal migration watch-points. Two or more generations occur between May and September, and the larvae feed on the leaves of certain types of vegetables as well as weeds.