Search for Small Dark Yellow Underwing caterpillars. Carrbridge, June 22nd
By Pete Moore
Small Dark Yellow Underwing (SDYU) adults are rarely seen and their caterpillars have never been found in the wild in Scotland. The discovery of their larvae is important as it should help determine more precisely the conditions they require. Foregin Estate, just north-west of Carrbridge, has been one of the most regular sites for recording adults in recent years, so it seemed a sensible place to look for the early stages.
A previous search at night at the same site in 2017 failed to find any caterpillars, however, this year we searched for the caterpillars during the day using a Bugvac, which is akin to a leaf blower in reverse and specifically designed to safely sample invertebrates.
An impressive 14 people gathered on the moorland edge, armed with washing-up bowls. After tea, cake, a blether and instructions from Tom Prescott, we got down to business. Stephen Moran a.k.a Bugvac Man, used his Bugvac on clumps of bearberry (food-plant of SDYU) and he then tipped out the contents into people’s washing-up bowls so they could sift through the samples while Stephen moved on to the next clump.
There were plenty of ants in the samples, so it was appropriate that we had Xander Johnston, a.k.a. Ant Boy, to help ID them, along with other assorted bugs.
We hadn’t been going for long when a shout went up – Margaret Currie (VC Moth Recorder for Easter Ross) had found a SDYU larva in her bowl, thereby making history!! Photos were taken (only of the larva, Margaret was too shy) and it was back to the Bugvac to find more. But we didn’t. We Bugvac’d all day but still only had the one larva to our tally. Never mind, the day was still a success.
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