2016 project

Create a new topic with news of your recent butterfly sightings and first for year dates

2016 project

Postby georgehogg » Sat 02 Jan 2016 23:30

Happy New Year to all !

Planning Torness butterfly surveys for this year and I would like to concentrate on finding eggs and larvae with a view to understanding which bits of habitat are used by which butterflies and moths.

Usually find Peacock and Small Tort caterpillars and Orange Tip eggs,but feel i am missing a lot of other species.

Those adults seen and thought to be breeding are Small ,Large and Green Veined Whites,Red Admiral,Painted Lady,Wall,Speckled Wood,Common Blue,Small Copper, Ringlet,Meadow Brown, Small Heath and Comma.

Which eggs or larvae should I be looking for on which plants in which months ?
Of course I have some ideas but all input is welcome,

Hope to start next week !

Regards, George
georgehogg
 
Posts: 391
Joined: Sat 19 Mar 2011 23:57

Re: 2016 project

Postby IAC » Mon 04 Jan 2016 22:49

Happy New Year George and everyone else on here. Weather could be better.

George,
This project of yours will be very exciting for us all to hear about, especially if you have some success. Its not easy trying to find caterpillars and eggs of the Butterfly and Moth species. I tend to keep finding the few species I have experience of just as you mentioned in Small Tortoiseshell, Orange Tip, Peacock etc. I have found eggs of Common Blue and Small Copper by observing the adult females over a period of time and... well...its not easy. The White Butterflies should be a doddle though. I will give one example of Green Veined White. The females will look to lay on the leaves of Garlic Mustard, eggs are white and laid singly though multiple eggs can be found where there are multiple females and low concentrations of available food plant. The food plant familiar to me is as I have pointed out the Garlic Mustard. This is a widespread and common plant. They will also use a wide range of plants that are related such as Cuckoo Flower, Water Cress, Nasturtium. etc. They should overwinter as chrysalis...though...things can be a little tricky when late broods can fail to pupate and over winter as caterpillars. I am not sure about survivability. So eggs are best looked for in spring when the adults are around. The underside of the food plant leafs, though I have seen a few on the upperside. Caterpillars and feeding damage can be detected a little later in spring. Like all caterpillars they are devilishly disguised and may take some time to find.

I will look at the other species you mentioned and try to provide some photos I have taken and some tips. The grassland Butterflies like Wall Brown and Speckled Wood I know can be found...but it would be a mighty challenge. The Cats hide out in the deepest of the tussocks during winter and will only venture forth on milder nights.

I will get back to you George.

Iain.
IAC
 
Posts: 744
Joined: Sat 28 Mar 2009 20:12

Re: 2016 project

Postby georgehogg » Wed 06 Jan 2016 00:12

Many thanks Iain,This research stage is proving fascinating !
Has anyone got experience of surveying for nocturnal caterpillars at night ?
Also when I find what are almost certainly red admiral tents on top of nettles I always wonder if any other moth or sawfly species make similar tents,so am never sure.
I know I could open the tents and take a look but hate being so invasive.
On mild winter days are Wall caterpillars likely to be active ,or is that a night job too ?
Do they wait for full darkness or would late afternoon do ?
I ask because their preferred micro habitats such as rabbit porches are far more specific than more general species,so may be easier found ?
Thinking of making that my first challenge.
Also ,have Painted Lady eggs or larvae been found on the Lothian coast?
Have checked summer thistles for years with no success !
Suddenly there seems so much to learn when attention is turned to pre adult stages !
georgehogg
 
Posts: 391
Joined: Sat 19 Mar 2011 23:57

Re: 2016 project

Postby IAC » Wed 06 Jan 2016 03:36

Suddenly there seems so much to learn when attention is turned to pre adult stages !


It is a never ending supply of surprises George. The best of it is that you just keep getting better at spotting stuff. I have sat many times dumbfounded at finding Small Blue larvae realising after a while that my finding them was just a little bit more than pure luck and I had crossed over into uber geekdom lol. It has certainly added a new dimension to my Butterfly hunting.

Here is a very interesting post by Badger Bob of UKButterflies who searched for Wall Larvae in January just as you are proposing to do.

13/1/2015.
In between the showers I called up for a quick Wall larvae hunt. In just over 30 minutes I managed to find 5. I couldn't relocate the 2 from last week, but they are probably hiding somewhere near. All were around 1.2cm today. 3 were found when I disturbed them on their grass stems and they dropped into the tussocks. The other 2 were spotted sitting on the grass and they stayed for photos and measuring. Several spiders were also seen in the tussocks and they could be the main threat to the larva at this time of year, apart from the weather perhaps. Last year I found one of these spiders with a Marbled White larva in its claws!! A moth larva was also found which had a totally different approach to keeping hidden. Whereas the Wall larva is extremely slow moving so it keeps hidden, the moth larva moved quickly to try to escape. A shieldbug and a ladybird also seen in the tussocks. 3 photos attached, one showing the size against a measure, and the 2 sitting on the grass. Both of the 2 on the grass had water droplets trapped in their hairs!!

IMG_0001.jpg



Link to this thread concerning Wall Brown which mostly outlines recent difficulties the species is experiencing down south. Badger Bob set himself the task of finding overwintering larvae. Some encouraging stuff to read.

http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/phpBB/vi ... 106&t=8098

Iain.
IAC
 
Posts: 744
Joined: Sat 28 Mar 2009 20:12

Re: 2016 project

Postby georgehogg » Wed 06 Jan 2016 20:22

Many thanks Iain,I see the article begins "In between showers" so hope tomorrow's forecast is wrong !
Still,the best plan seems to be white bag or sweep net on ground under likely overhanging grass and hope to tap a larva or two onto it.
I have one or two sites in mind.
One benefit of the rubbish forecast might be no one around to witness supernerd behaviour !
georgehogg
 
Posts: 391
Joined: Sat 19 Mar 2011 23:57

Re: 2016 project

Postby NickMorgan » Tue 26 Jan 2016 00:23

George,
I have been meaning to respond for some time, but never seem to have had a chance.
Abbie and I discovered the fun of searching for overwintering butterflies last winter. It certainly was a cure for the winter blues!!
We managed to find a number of old abandoned buildings with over-wintering adult Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks. We discovered that they like to be in a room off a room. That way they seem to avoid there being too much light and too much fluctuation in temperature. Also I imagine the lack of a breeze help to prevent them drying out over the long winter months. So I guess if you can find a nice dark, unheated building where the temperature doesn't fluctuate you may be in luck.
I have been intrigued that we have never found any Commas, but have since read that they prefer to hibernate in vegetation, so I imagine ivy-covered walls and Leylandii hedges may be possibilities, but they must be far more difficult to find than needles in hay stacks!
Also Red Admirals and Painted Ladies presumably fly back down south, as we have never found any of them, either!
Pieridae all overwinter as chrysalises. With Large, Small and Green-veined Whites I have found their chrysalises on my house, garage and fence, but only on years when I have had lots of eggs and caterpillars on our Nasturtiums. They are really obvious in such situations, but I imagine that if they were on tree trunks and branches they would be far more difficult to find. I can only advise planting food plants and searching for chrysalises close to where the caterpillars have been feeding.
Orange Tip eggs and caterpillars are really easy to spot, but I can't say the same for chrysalises. I have only ever seen three, all of them green (there is also a brown variety). Two were on Garlic Mustard stems and this year Abbie found one on a Hawthorn hedge above some dried out Garlic Mustard seed heads. Having searched Garlic Mustard seed heads for longer than I care to admit I suspected that the caterpillars maybe wandered for a bit before forming chrysalises. Abbie's find confirms this, so maybe I will have more luck in the future. It is amazing that they remain a chrysalis for up to ten months. I grew some Garlic Mustard in pots in the garden last year in the hope of rearing some Orange Tips, but unfortunately they didn't lay any eggs on them. I will try again this year.
Small Copper. I once watched a female Small Copper laying eggs on a Sorrel plant on a path. As the path was about to be re-surfaced, I dug up the plant and planted it in a pot at home. A few days later the egg hatched and I discovered that there were actually three caterpillars on the plant. When the weather became cold the caterpillars disappeared. I had thought that a Bluetit had maybe found them, but in the spring all three reappeared. I can only assume that they were under the surface of the soil, as they were definitely not on the few remaining leaves. I watched them until they grew to full size, but some time in April they disappeared again, never to be seen again. I hope that they formed chrysalises in the soil, or maybe away from the pot under some leaves somewhere.
Just about every other species found here will be caterpillars over the winter in grassland. I don't know how easy they would be to find, as I have never found any! If the Small Copper is anything to go by they will be down in the base of the grass plants during the colder months. Maybe on a nice mild day they may climb up the grass stems to feed on softer leaves.
I will be really interested to hear how you get on.
NickMorgan
 
Posts: 553
Joined: Tue 04 Aug 2009 18:03

Re: 2016 project

Postby georgehogg » Sun 31 Jan 2016 01:53

Attempts so far !
Back at the start of this thread,when it was still dark at Torness when I arrived,I had the idea of taking lots of close up flash photos of tussocks along the high walkway at Skateraw where Wall are often seen in Summer.
It took days to go through all the pics searching in vain for caterpillars,assuming Wall cats are nocturnal ?
Also the weather when I took the pics was windy wet and cold,so generally a very optimistic exercise !

Postponed the plan until better weather when I will try by day before resorting to night surveying.

Have also had a go at surveying for orange tip cocoons on bramble and other branches above spots I know support garlic mustard in summer.
Technique was to stand and stare through close focusing bins,checking brambles one thorn at a time.
Seemed sufficiently geeky but still didn't work !

Fear not,numerous more geeky schemes planned ! :geek:
georgehogg
 
Posts: 391
Joined: Sat 19 Mar 2011 23:57

Re: 2016 project

Postby georgehogg » Fri 22 Jul 2016 22:33

Still trying for sub adult stages when time allows.
Best so far is discovery of several Painted Lady cats on Spear Thistles in a wildlife strip.
Got OT eggs and cats ( and GVW egg off site).
Have marked spots to aid search for OT cocoons.
Small Tort.Peacock and RA cats in the bag but all others proving elusive,or rather the time is !
Remind me not to try this again ! :shock:
georgehogg
 
Posts: 391
Joined: Sat 19 Mar 2011 23:57


Return to Butterfly News

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests

cron