Sunday, 11 August 2013 00:00

Wow! A Jersey Tiger moth visits

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This time last year I was wondering whether to get rid of the Leonotis leonorus and Buddleja or keep them both because the former turned out to be a manky nettle with few flowers and the latter was covered in butterflies and I thought these two facts might be related. The Buddleja survived, the Leonotis didn’t.

This year I have so far seen Comma, Red Admiral, large and small white, and small blue butterflies but no Peacocks yet.

However, on Friday 9th August there was a large, colourful flutter just by the kitchen garden doors. I watched this creature in flight, all orange and black and pale yellow and couldn’t think what it was but assumed it was a butterfly of some sort because it was midday and bright sunshine. Thankfully it settled on a new Buddleja (yes I’ve got a new one – well three – ie tricoloured in a big pot near the herbs).

It was something I had never seen before and I have now identified it as a Jersey Tiger moth, Euplagia quadripunctaria. And wow it’s beautiful - as you’ll see in the video. It stayed on the Buddleja for about 30 minutes allowing me to change lenses to a macro lens, make a cup of coffee and search through my butterflies and moths book to try and identify it, while it happily fed on the nectar and I filmed it. Identification finally happened online as ever.

When it is feeding all you can see from above are the black and pale yellow markings ie none of the wonderful orange it flashes when it’s in flight. But, if you watch the video, you’ll see that all this orange is hidden in the underwings and undercarriage.

According to Wikipedia and various Moth sites, the Jersey Tiger Moth is widely distributed in Europe from Estonia to Latvia in the North and to the Mediterranean coast in the South. Aside from being frequent in the Channel Islands (whence its common name), this species was rarely seen in the British Isles in Victorian times. Since then, however, it has spread more widely in Devon and Cornwall, and has recently been seen more frequently in southern England, especially in the Isle of Wight, northern Kent, and south London. They have been seen regularly and in numbers every year in London since 2004, so it is probable that they have established a breeding colony - hence it popping in here to feed in SW12.

And it flies during the day which is why we can see it on my Buddleja - filming at night is not my speciality!

Anyway, it was a very welcome visitor to the garden. At one point it made a silly decision to fly into the kitchen so I had to open both doors and hope it would leave. About 20 minutes later an orange and black flutter came past me on the terrace so I presume it had sensibly decided to find nectar outside. There’s none in the kitchen. Indoor plants are not something I’m good at. Basil for cooking and Aloe for cooking burns is basically all there is.

So I said farewell and assumed I would never see one again because they are pretty rare around here. Then at about mid-day on the next day it arrived again and stayed until about 6.00pm in various places. I therefore have hours of footage but have boiled them down to two and a half minutes for you! A couple of times when I disturbed it, it flew at me and even landed on me twice and came into the kitchen on my trouser leg but mostly it sucked at Buddleja and rested. I feel enormously privileged to have been witness and host to it. It was all very exciting and I hope you enjoy the video. It's an amazing creature.

 

Read 35065 times Last modified on Wednesday, 01 October 2014 09:20