Here’s a couple of new moths in the garden over the weekend. The Yellow-faced Bell (Notocelia cynosbatella) is a common micro-moth in UK, its caterpillars feeding on rose leaves. It’s thought that the moth is coloured to be camouflaged like bird poo. Brown and bit nondescript, the other moth is a female Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella), a parasite of bees and wasps. Between all the bee flies, nomad bees, parasitic wasps and now the bee moth, it seems that bee’s nests attract a lot of unwelcome attention! The Bee Moth usually lays its eggs in an above-ground bumble bee’s nest, where on hatching its larvae live in the nest. They have some beneficial effect eating waste and debris around the nest, but also consume eggs and larvae of the host.
After last week’s Vine Weevil, here’s another one from the rogues gallery of horrendous garden pests; a cutworm, so-called because of the way they nip off seedlings at ground level. These are moth caterpillars that live in the ground, coming out at night to voraciously munch their way around the garden. There are several species of noctuid moth that have ground-living larvae. This one might be from the Turnip Moth (Agrotis segetum), which has a particular reputation as an vegetable-growers nightmare; however due to the lack of features it’s hard to say. Not a very pretty thing either, but certainly looking well fed.
Found this Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata) in the house today. It’s not rare, but as a moth that flies from November through January, it is unusual. The males fly up to the top of trees to find the flightless females, who lay their eggs in leaf buds. The moths are native to Europe, but introduced and becoming a pest in North America, where they lack natural predators.
The other new species is a moss I photographed on the roof the other day; Grey-cushioned Grimmia (Grimmia pulvinata). It’s a pretty common moss in fact, growing alongside Redshank Moss in silver fluffy clumps on the tiles.
My first new moth for a while, a Light Brown Apple Moth (#317), is originally a native of Australia. First found in UK in the 1930s it's now spread across much of England making a pest of itself in orchards and gardens. Similarly, it's been accidentally introduced to New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii and California. In Australia the population is kept under control naturally by insect predators, especially parasitic wasps and flies, that eat the larvae. However in other countries these predators are not present, so the moths can become a significant pest in orchards. It's an interesting reversal of all the non-native plants and animals introduced (often deliberately) to Australia and New Zealand by European colonists, which now have to be controlled at great cost by local farmers and conservationists.