B       B
     
 

HOME PAGE         MAIN THUMBS PAGE         WHAT'S NEW         GLOSSARY

 

webmaster@dhlepidoptera.org.uk

 
 

HABITAT, RECORDING, TRAPPING, CONSERVATION & FACTS

 

Broad-bordered Bee Hawk Moth

 
         
 

COPYRIGHT RESERVED 2013

 

SPECIES SEARCH

 
 

CONTENTS OF THIS PAGE

 

TO SEARCH THIS WEBSITE CLICK HERE

 
 

 

 

 

 
  WHERE TO FIND LEPIDOPTERA AND OTHER INSECTS   HABITATS, NATURE RESERVES AND CONSERVATION  
  TRAPPING AND RECORDING   LIFE CYCLE ILLUSTRATED  
  PARASITES & PREDATORS   PARASITES & PREDATORS  
 

INSECT LIFE CYCLES

  LIFE CYCLE IN DETAIL  
 

HABITAT TYPES

  HABITAT TYPES  
    v

 

 
 

WHERE TO FIND LEPIDOPTERA AND OTHER INSECTS:

It is worth noting that adult moths and butterflies do not bite or sting, and are virtually harmless to the handler. A few species of hairy caterpillars how ever can create severe irritating rashes to people handling them, especially on sensitive skin.

Some moths and butterflies are very specialised in the type of habitat that they require, and will there fore not be seen in industrial area's, or the majority of suburban gardens. The Green hairstreak for example likes open moor land and heath land, usually where heather and bilberry is present. Moths Like the Gold Spot usually are found in and around damp marshy situations. So to see some species it is necessary to travel to likely habitats and locations at the appropriate time of the year during their flight periods.

The home garden, or local common is a good place to start how ever as many species share our dwellings, out houses, gardens and communal spaces with us. Many species of moth come to the normal domestic lights after dark, and can some times be seen at rest in porches, on fence palings etc. Many butterflies feed on nectar bearing plants in our gardens, parks and road side verges. Some butterflies and moths even lay their eggs on our garden plants where the caterpillars will then feed and change into adults. Butterflies are sun loving, day flying creatures, but so are some moth species such as the Latticed Heath, Burnet moths, Cinnabar and the Humming-bird Hawk moth, to name just a few.

SEE WARNING FOR THE    BROWN-TAIL CATERPILLAR:

TOP OF PAGE

v

HABITS, NATURE RESERVES AND CONSERVATION:

There are many different kinds of habitats that are colonised by insects, and some insects will adapt to a wide variety of habitats. Others how ever have very specialised needs and require very specific plant types, growing in almost virtually unique situations. It is impossible to conserve and protect some species, without conserving the habitat in which they thrive. Two of the biggest threats to our native wildlife at this time is habitat loss, and global warming. Habitat loss is caused by many factors, most are directly connected with catering for the needs of humans, such as intensive farming, commerce, industry and house building.

By designating an area as a nature reserve, not only are we protecting the endangered target species, but many other species such as birds, plants and animals residing within that reserve. A good example of this is the Purple Emperor butterfly which requires large woods with a good size population of mature oak tree's.

There are hundreds of nature reserves of varying sizes throughout Britain. Many of these reserves have free parking, and public access to them, some are even found within city boundaries. They era managed by local authorities and conservation groups such as 'Butterfly Conservation', the R.S.P.B. , your local wildlife trust and various other groups of like minded people. The links on my home page will put you in touch with some of these groups, and by going on to their websites you can find out more about places to visit in your area.

TOP OF PAGE

 
    v    
 

TRAPPING and RECORDING:

How do conservationist know what to protect and conserve, and where? There are many thousands of people in the U. K. that send in records of what they see, and where they observed their sightings of various kinds of wild life. The majority of the people that send in these records are not employed full time in the various conservation societies, but are just ordinary people who  take note of what they see, and report it to the appropriate county recorders. Most of these people when they start taking records are novices, and often over the years they become some thing of an expert in their own chosen interest.

There are many good books on the market that will assist in identifying most kinds of wild life in the U. K. County recorders will be pleased to accept your records, especially if accompanied by a photograph. Admittedly some of these books can be expensive, but they are educational, and can bring many hours of pleasure. One good book I purchased recently was entitled, 'The British Moths and Butterflies' by Chris Manley, it cost me 25.00 from an R.S.P.B. outlet. Another good book is, 'Moths of the British Isles' by Bernard Skinner, this recently cost me 48.00.

Digital camera's are relatively inexpensive these days, and a camera with a macro facility, and a resolution of at least 8Mpx would give good clear pictures. Your local county wildlife trust will put you in touch with county recorders, or accept your records directly. The minimum data that is usually required is the date and place, and the grid reference or postcode, of where the specimen was seen. Below are some links to help put you in touch with your county recorders. There are also some links for specialist entomological books and equipment.

TOP OF PAGE

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org  http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/

 

TRAPPING and RECORDING CONT ....

There are many hundreds of species of moths in the U. K., a good place to start in your own back garden. You will be surprised how many moths, and butterflies visit town and suburban gardens. Moths are attracted to light, and will often come to doors and windows that are lit up after dark. Often they can be seen at dusk flying around before the last day light has faded. After dark they can be seen with the aid of a good torch, feeding on wild and garden flowers. In just over twelve months at my address in Pudsey, I have recorded one hundred and twenty four species of butterflies and moths.

Care must be taken in catching them, they are reasonably delicate and should not be harmed. Fishing nets are not suitable for catching insects, they are to rough and inflexible and will invariable damage some of the specimens caught. Proprietary butterfly nets, designed for this purpose can be purchased, and are reasonably inexpensive. Moth traps can also be purchased, these catch moths without harming them. The specimens caught can then be studied at leisure the next day, then released unharmed after dark.

There are two basic types of trap, low voltage portable traps, and mercury vapour traps that need a mains input, or a portable generator. I have a Heath Trap which uses a 12 volt motorcycle battery, and an eight watt actinic tube. If you are trapping in your own garden these low voltage traps are less intrusive to neighbouring properties. They are quite successful, one night this summer I had seventy seven moths the following morning. In the pat I have had over one hundred  and fifty moths on several occasions.

TOP OF PAGE

http://www.watdon.co.uk/      https://www.pemberleybooks.co.uk/

 
         
 

HABITAT TYPES:

There is a huge variety of  habitat types that support their own, and often unique communities of insects, as well as supporting a wealth of tree's, shrubs, wild flowers, birds, reptiles and mammals. Some have already attained nature reserve status, for example, 'Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve', Lincolnshire.

Some habitats are difficult to classify as they may have the characteristics of two, or more habitat types. An example of this is the local commons which around the country are so varied. These commons can consist of wild flower meadows, light wood land, pasture, heath land, ponds and marshes, or often a mixture of many of the listed components.

Heath land generally consists of some of these features, Heather, Bilberry, Gorse, Hawthorn scrub and other smaller tree's and shrubs with open area's. These heaths are good for species like the Emperor Moth, Fox Moth, Wood Tiger, True Lovers Knot, Green Hairstreak and many other species.

Grassy sea cliffs and coastal sand dunes with a good selection of wild flowers are great places for butterflies and moths. Often migrant species like Clouded Yellow, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Humming-bird Hawk Moth, Rush Veneer, are first spotted each season in these coastal regions. Also many native species like these coastal area's such as Lulworth Skipper, Chalkhill Blue, Brown Argus, Small Heath, Brown-tail moths, the Sand Dart and many others.

TOP OF PAGE

 

HABITAT TYPES CONT ....

Woodland, forests and road sides lined with tree's and shrubs, are places where many tree dwelling species are to be found. Species like the Black, Purple and White-letter Hairstreaks, Lime, Poplar and Eyed Hawk Moths dwell here, as their caterpillars feed solely upon the leaves of various types of tree's and shrubs.

Moor land is very open and bleak for the most part, but many kinds of moths and butterflies are to be found there, some unique to that type of habitat. Some of the caterpillars of these species only eat the type of plants found on moor land, such as heather, bilberry and rock lichens. On the lower altitude boggier parts of moors reside species like the Large Heath and the Ear Moth. On the dryer open parts species like the Small and Northern Eggar, and in wooded moor land the Yellow Horned, Orange Underwing, Lackey and Lunar Hornet can be found.

Hills, and mountain slopes are home to species like the Mountain Ringlet and the Northern Brown Argus that only reside at higher altitudes. The caterpillars of the Northern Brown Argus feed on the flowers and leaves of Rockrose.

Grass land and meadows are where species whose caterpillars feed upon various grasses, and the herbaceous plants that grow in these grassy situations. Butterflies like the Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Wall Brown reside here, as well as many moths like the Mother Shipton, Cinnabar, Burnet Companion, and Ghost Moth.

TOP OF PAGE

 
         
 

INSECT LIFE CYCLES:

Insects such as moths and butterflies have four stages to the life cycle;

A: Egg (ova).

B: Caterpillar (larva).

C: Chrysalis (pupa).

D: Winged adult (imago).

NOTE:

All insect young are termed larvae, but only the larvae of moths and butterflies are called caterpillars.

TOP OF PAGE

 

INSECT LIFE CYCLES:

Other insects such as dragonflies have only three stages to the life cycle;

A: Egg (ova).

B: Nymph (larva).

C: Winged adult (imago).

Maturing to the adult stage with out pupating.

 

 

TOP OF PAGE

 
         
 

LIFE CYCLE IN DETAIL:

The eggs of moths and butterflies can take from just a few days, or up to  a few weeks to hatch, depending upon the species. Some species lay eggs in late summer that take months to hatch, producing caterpillars in the following spring. Many types of caterpillars on hatching eat the shell of the egg they hatched from. The structure and shape of eggs varies quite a lot, some are rounded, some ovular, barrel shaped or like flattened discs. Appearance of the egg surfaces can differ to, some are plain and smooth, some are netted, some ribbed and others with a roughened appearance. After the eggs are laid they often go through a series of colour changes, as the small caterpillar within develops.  Some species lay their eggs in pairs, or singly upon the food plant, others lay their eggs in large batches, and some join their eggs together, end to end to form a string. A few species such as the Ghost Moth, scatter their eggs randomly whilst in flight over their chosen habitat.

Caterpillars, like the eggs can take a few weeks, or as in some cases to mature and develop. Some produce adult moths and butterflies in the same year, others take the best part of a full year. A few species take more than a year to eventually pupate and eventually become adults. An example of this is the Goat Moth which can be a larva for four to five years, feeding inside the trunks of various tree species. Caterpillars of each species usually eat specific types of plant/s, how ever between all the species to be found in Britain, there is probably no types of garden, or wild plants that are not consumed by caterpillars. There is a great deal of variation in the shape, colour and markings, some caterpillars are very similar looking. This can in some cases make identification very difficult, however and I think it is safe to say no two species are quite alike. Some species are so similar as adults, that it is better to identify them during the larval stages.

TOP OF PAGE

 

LIFE CYCLE IN DETAIL CONT ....

Pupation, or the changing of a larvae into a pupa, or chrysalis is an unusual stage transformation in the animal kingdom. However the changes that happen during this state are even more unusual and fascinating. Apart from the radical changes of the outer shape, and appearance, the insect becomes almost fluid like internally. These external, and internal changes allow the insect to chemically, and drastically alter its appearance, turning from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly or moth. Pupation takes place in different ways according to the individual species, some make cocoons spun amongst leaves or under the ground. Some pupate between the cracks in the tree bark, or amongst loose leaf litter on the ground. Others do not make a cocoon, but simply attach themselves from a silken pad spun on the food plant, or other suitable support.

Adult moths and butterflies we have all seen, and marvelled at their beautiful colours, and intricate markings at some point in time. There are over two and a half thousand species to be seen here in Britain. Most of these species are resident here, some though are migrants to the British Isles that come from Europe and even Africa, America and Asia. Regular annual migrants include the Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Humming-bird Hawk Moth. Other migrants are scarce and rarely ever seen, some examples of these are the Crimson Speckled, the Nine-spotted and the Bedstraw Hawk Moth. Some of our resident species were not originally native to this country, but were accidentally introduced in the past. These accidental introductions generally tend to come from imported food products, timber and plants. Examples of some imported species is the Light Brown Apple Moth and Blair's Shoulder-knot. Both these species have quickly extended their range in Britain, and are now common in places. Other species have migrated here in recent years, and settled due to global warming.

TOP OF PAGE

 
         
 

 

EXAMPLE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE LEPIDOPTERA LIFE CYCLE:

 

 

EXAMPLE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE LEPIDOPTERA LIFE CYCLE:

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

EGGS OF THE VAPOURER MOTH.             CINNABAR MOTH CATERPILLAR.

 

LARGE SKIPPER PUPA.                              ADULT GHOST MOTH.

 
         
 

PARASITES and PREDATORS:

Very few moth and butterfly eggs make it through to become an flying adult insect. There are various dangers during the course of their development. Most deaths are incurred during the ;larval stage of the life cycle. Disease accounts for a lot of fatalities, birds and other creatures use caterpillars as a food source. Some species of larvae are cannibalistic and they will eat each other. These is all part of the natural cycle of life, as is the parasitic creatures that also prey on caterpillars.

 

PARASITES and PREDATORS cont ....

Parasites come in many shapes and forms, they are the young of some wasp and ichneumon fly species. Usually the adult parasite pierces the skin of a young larva with its long, sharp ovipositor tube. Eggs of the parasite are then deposited within the soft tissues, inside the host caterpillar (rather like an injection with a hypodermic syringe). On hatching the parasitic larvae feed on soft, non vital tissues within the host. By feeding this way, they keep their host alive until the parasitic larvae can achieve maturity.

 
 

 

     
   LARVA WITH PARASITE ENTRY POINT         PARASITIZED CAMPION LARVA      
         
         
 

HOME PAGE         MAIN THUMBS PAGE         WHAT'S NEW         GLOSSARY

 

COPYRIGHT RESERVED 2011

 
     

siteowner1@virginmedia.com