Wednesday 10 August 2011

Lepidoptera madness!

Two hummingbird hawkmoths sun themselves on the pele tower roof (Will Scott)

The stunningly iridescent burnished brass moth

The beautiful garden tiger moth

A wall butterfly on Inner Farne (Will Scott)

A painted lady butterfly relaxes on a thistle flower (Will Scott)

Wednesday 10th August comments: The Farnes is well known for its birds, both breeding and migratory, and with these obvious and beautiful creatures constantly reminding us of their presence; it’s often easy to overlook the smaller, but just as beautiful beasts.

The Farnes also plays host to Lepidoptera – butterflies and moths – and this year is rife with them, especially now what we’re into August! On the 5th and 6th of August alone, 86 butterflies of 11 species were recorded. These included a Dark Green Fritillary (8th for the Farnes), Comma (3rd record), 11 Painted Ladies, and over 30 Red Admiral all on the 5th.

The night is equally as hectic, as wardens have lured plenty of moths into their traps too. Dark Swordgrass, the migrating Silver Y, the spectacular Garden Tiger, Burnished Brass and Hummingbird Hawkmoths have all been caught, proving the farnes really is the place to be for any beast with wings! Ghost Moths are abundant, their lavae feeding on the island’s dock roots, whilst Dark Arches and Dark Spinach are found in huge numbers. This is by no means an exhaustive list - in total over 2700 moths of 95 different species have been caught so far!

Lepidoptera are useful fast indicators of environmental change, due to their rapid population turnover, so their numbers on the Farnes are closely monitored. And being such spectacular critters to view, it’s not an arduous task at all.