Monday, 29 July 2013

Butterfly and moth time

It seems that it is now high summer and it is butterfly and moth time.  This past weekend has seen a plethora of butterflies in our back garden.  At one point looking out of the back door I counted eight large white butterflies dancing around the lavender bushes and a small blue butterfly floated past.  On Saturday afternoon we found a dead moth in a paddling pool at my sister's house.  It was an utterly beautiful red and black one and we wondered at the time what kind it was but then moved on to something else. 

Yesterday we were trying to clear the overgrown mess that is our garden,  Sitting down on our new table and chairs, we looked at the work still to do.  I noticed that there was a small patch of ragwort in a corner, which probably needed taking out and clearing.  Looking more closely there were at least twenty or so yellow and black striped caterpillars covering the whole plant, eating everything in their path.  We will leave them and their ragwort alone for the time being until they have all left (or eaten the whole plant!)

A close up of our cinnabar caterpillars taken by Mr C

Looking them up we found that these were the caterpillars for the Cinnabar Moth.  In a strange coincidence the moth we found in the paddling pool was a cinnabar moth.  Interesting the cinnabar moth caterpillars only eat ragwort, a plant that is poisonous to most other animals (it is often something that farmers are particularly concerned about their animals eating).  The bright colours of both the caterpillar and the moth itself are a warning to predators.  This is needed especially as the cinnabar moth flies during the day time, unlike most other moths.

 Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued,
is always just beyond your grasp, 
 but which, if you will sit down quietly, 
may alight upon you.  
Nathaniel Hawthorne

1 comment:

  1. I love those Cinnabar moths. I have a small clump of ragwort in my garden (as so some of my neighbours) which I leave just for them. When I kept ponies, if we saw it in our paddock, we dug it out and burned it.