Angle Shades and a Buff-tip

A couple of very distinctive moths in the trap yesterday

This is a Buff-tip – a common species which flies from May to July. Their caterpillars feed on the leaves of sallows and other broad-leaved trees

This is Angle Shades – can be seen as an adult moth in any month of the year. The caterpillars feed on a very wide range of herbaceous plants

The Orange Ladybird and the Harlequin Ladybird

In the UK there are 47 species of ladybird!

Here are a couple from my garden yesterday.

The species on the left is the Harlequin  Ladybird and the one on the right is the Orange Ladybird

The Harlequin Ladybird is the is an invasive species – it is a non native species and is a threat to our native species.

The Orange Ladybird is associated with oaks and ash.

All ladybirds are predators of insects such as aphids.

A Western Bee-fly in my garden in Exeter

Yesterday in the warm sunshine I came across a very small bee-fly in my garden. I have regularly seen the larger Dark-edged Bee-fly (Bombylius major) but I have never seen a Western Bee-fly (Bombylius canescens) in the garden before. If I want to see one of these I normally go to Hembury Woods on Dartmoor.

Distinctive bee-fly with its long proboscis – the animal was around 8mm long

Feeding on Germander Speedwell flowers – gives a good indication of the size of the bee-fly

The dark core with the lighter fringing hairs is distinctive.

As you can see from this distribution map (courtesy of the NBN) it is not a common animal

Jersey Tiger caterpillar

Another caterpillar at my moth trap this morning. This time it wasn’t in the trap but under it.

This is the caterpillar of the Jersey Tiger – reasonable rare moth which is common in South Devon and is spreading along the south coast and has now reached London.

This is what the adult looks like.

The caterpillar will pupate and emerge as an adult moth in mid July.

The underwings of the Jersey Tiger are bright red – warning colouration to deter predators e.g. birds from eating them.

A Vestal Cuckoo Bee

I found this bumblebee in the garden a couple of days ago and it is not all that it seems. The wings are darkened and the back between the wings is almost devoid of hairs. In addition the buff, yellow, black and white patterning is a little unusual.

This is not a bumblebee, it is a cuckoo bee – the Vestal Cuckoo Bee (Bombus vestalis).

Cuckoo bees are very closely related to bumblebees but behave rather differently – as their name suggest they behave the the bird of the same name. They lay their eggs in the nest of a bumblebee (in the case this species the buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) and then feed off the host’s food stores and are fed by the host’s worker bees.

A Mocha amongst others

I’m glad to say that the Mocha is back again this season. It is a nationally rare moth and I had several in my trap last year.

The Mocha from this morning – a pretty little moth, caterpillars feed on field maple leaves

Also had this Maiden’s Blush – it is a common species and its caterpillars feed on oak leaves

This is an Ingrailed Clay – a common but very variable species – the arrow head marks help identification. Caterpillars feed on a variety of plants including primrose.

And this is a Cabbage Moth – the white marks around the lower ‘kidney’ mark assist with ID. The caterpillars can be a pest of cabbages but can also feed on many other species of plant.