Further Butterfly and Moth News

Bill and Liz Shaw writes, “It is many years since I have seen so many peacock butterflies as we have this month, they have come through the last two wet summers OK, however I have not seem one red admiral butterfly yet.” Bill also managed to take a photo of a hoverfly, Syrphus ribesii, no common name. This species, which is widespread and common is almost identical to Syrphus rectus, again no common name, the only difference being with ribesii the female’s hind femur is entirely yellow and positive identification apparently gets difficult after that, personally I can’t be sure which bit of the leg is the femur so congratulations to Bill on his identification skills and eyesight. Hoverflies, or at least these particular hoverflies, are great for gardeners because their larva feed on aphids, so as well as been pollinators hoverfly are a useful pest controller, so encourage them. Finally Bill has sent me a superb photo of a popular hawkmoth.

I have received another superb moth photo from Chris Shovelton of Harrogate who writes, “These are a couple of pictures of what I believe is a large emerald moth which is currently (3.30pm on August 14) resting on the mint plant outside our kitchen door. I love the legs and antenna which look as if it has been playing in gold paint!” The large emerald is described in my book (Waring and Townsend) as “resident, common, widely and well distributed, and often frequent.” I mention this because apparently only one has been seen in Guernsey in about 1889, how strange is that?

A further moth photo comes from Max Hamilton of this lovely magpie moth taken on his blackthorn.

Sarah Taylor from Bishop Monkton has sent me a few photos of the wildlife she has seen locally recently, including a roe deer, peacock butterfly and what is most likely a red underwing moth, which is common, although rare, and unusual similar species include french red, rosy, light crimson or dark crimson underwing moths.

Neil Anderson recently visited Haverah Park and reports, “Lots of butterflies, particularly peacocks and commas. Also 200 plus lapwing and 100 or so golden plover on Scargill Reservoir. All took to the air together, spooked by what looked like a peregrine.


Nicola King of Wetherby saw a grey heron on the edge of the lake at Harewood.

Jayne King sent this excellent photo of a pair of stoats, probably an adult and youngster playing. We seem to always describe stoats as playing but perhaps there is really something more objective to their actions, what do you think?

I was fascinated by a photo sent to me by Carol Warrington of a bees’ nest “built in some long grass, under an apple tree in my garden in Sicklinghall. It is covered in moss, dome shaped, and about 8” across and about 5” high.” The nest is on the ground rather than underground, but sadly not particularly photogenic so I haven’t included it; however, it fascinated me and this drew me to research further and I discovered that bumblebees choose a warm situation to nest in, which is well insulated, such as an old mouse or vole nest and can be on the ground as well as underground. Nest positions tend to differ between different species and the carder species of bumblebee apparently get their name from their habit of carding moss or dead grass, or combing it, I suspect therefore that Carol’s nest is the nest of Bombus pascuorum or the brown-banded carder bee, also called the common carder bee.

Sue Batcup writes, “Here in North Rigton I have had three sightings of a barn owl in the rough field behind our house in the last 10 days, always at dusk. I understood that North Yorkshire was the furthest north that a barn owl was likely to venture, but a friend reports seeing one in Northumberland recently.” It’s great to hear that barn owls are being seen around Sue’s house. I was intrigued by Sue’s understanding that the barn owl’s range ends in Yorkshire because I saw them in Northumberland many years ago near Craster. I therefore consulted the BTO and my suspicions were confirmed that although perhaps declining its UK range covers much of Scotland, but is scarce or absent from the Highlands and the islands of Scotland. Visit the BTO fact files and atlas for more information. I suspect barn owl numbers locally are increasing, can you let me know if you see barn owls in our area, please.

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