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saving butterflies, moths and our environment
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Culbin Forest, Kentish Glory Larval Search  - 23rd July 2016

Nine people turned up at Cloddymoss carpark, to the news that vehicle access to Culbin Forest was denied to us because of a horse-riding event through the forest that day. We hastily re-thought our plans and using a habitat map compiled by Stuart Bence from FC data, tried to select a good area of young birch within walking distance of the carpark.

Walking through the taller pine areas en route we soon found butterflies in the shape of Speckled Woods and Ringlets, which though conditions were overcast were quite active and feeding on bramble flowers. Other finds included sundry spiders, ants and beetles including Bee Beetle Trichius fasciatus and a longhorn beetle Rhagium mordax.  Two burying beetles Nicrophorus sp were making heroic efforts to shift a dead shrew off the stony path to softer ground where they could commence their burying activity.  A few moth species flew up or were found at rest, including Six-spot Burnet, Clouded Border, True Lover’s Knot, Bordered White and Common Carpet.

Coming upon an area with lots of young regenerating silver birch (the Kentish Glory’s preferred foodplant) we started searching in earnest, looking for the characteristic feeding damage of these caterpillars. (That is, large numbers of adjacent birch leaves removed cleanly while leaving the petioles, the leaf-stems, uneaten).  A small number of caterpillars of other species turned up including Vapourer moth and Northern Eggar, but the spectacular larvae of the Kentish Glory sadly eluded us. The best we could manage was a couple of hatched KG egg-batches still attached to slender shoots of the birch saplings – the caterpillars had hatched out some weeks before but, judging from the very slight feeding damage to leaves, had not survived long before being gobbled up by a bird or spider.

Photos by Karen Williams

Vapourer Moth Vapourer Moth Caterpillar

Six-spot Burnet Six-spot Burnet Moth

Common Carpet Common Carpet Moth

Kentish Glory Egg-batch Kentish Glory egg-batch (Hatched)

 

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