Tag Archives: Shoulder-stripe

True Spring – Equinoctial Full Moon

Although many spring flowers bloomed since St. Brigid’s Day today was the first day that actually felt like spring in every sense, and it coincided with the Equinoctial Full Moon, the Full Moon closest to the Equinox, which is one week from Wednesday, in case you didn’t know. And this morning I saw my first butterfly of the year basking in the bright sunlight:

A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly newly-emerged from hibernation. Those whoich hatch from chrysalises look far brighter, but this one has survived the winter in pretty good condition.

If the weather continues as good as this there will undoubtedly be more Small Tortoiseshells around soon. However, during the warmer nights more and more moth species are on the wing, including this handsome butterfly-sized Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata) which is attracted to lights, which is why it has perched beneath a light.

A Shoulder Stripe perched beneath a porch light.

And here is a close-up of the same Shoulder Stripe showing the camouflage which matches the very common Turkeytail fungus which grows on rotting wood:

   The blooming flowers which grow more numerous as the days grow longer and warm the countryside are what sustain the butterflies, moths, bees and, of course, hoverflies. Now the daffodils are growing numerous there are more and more insects:

And here is one of the earliest appearing hoverfly species, Melanostoma scalare:

And now that there are so many insects about the birds are spending a lot of time hunting and preparing to breed, like this handsome male Blackbird searching for caterpillars, grubs and earthworms on a grassy verge:

   And despite the many frosts this winter, the bright conditions have meant that many wild flowers which would normally flower later in the year are already blooming, such as these two species of handsome Dead-nettles, which are not related to nettles but look almost identical, but lack a sting, first the White Dead-nettle (Lamium album):

and secondly the Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum):

A Spring to be savoured

This year our spring is really dragging its heels, but that’s what makes it so special. Beautiful flowers, such as the Bluebells, which normally flower for a brief and spectacular few days in late April and early May, are still blooming away right now. And there seems to be more of them than usual. You can tell them apart from the interloping garden escapee, the Spanish Bluebell, by their subtle and pleasant fragrance, which the Spanish Bluebell lacks.

Bluebells by a stream. They are still blooming, probably the most impressive blooming Wicklow has ever seen.
Bluebells by a stream. They are still blooming, probably the most impressive blooming Wicklow has ever seen.

This year everything is slow to come, and slow to go, so maybe it gives us more time to enjoy it all. There is certainly a dearth of moths and butterflies, but still some significant ones are around. Of the moths, keep your eyes open for the Angles Shades, which resembles dry leaves, but has a tendency to perch on walls and fences, where it does stick out, once you realise it is a moth, not leaves.

An Angle Shades moth at rest during the day on a vegetable net. These handsome, medium-sized moths can be easily overlooked due to their brilliant camouflage, but are remarkably common.
An Angle Shades moth at rest during the day on a vegetable net. These handsome, medium-sized moths can be easily overlooked due to their brilliant camouflage, but are remarkably common.

Also look out for the Shoulder-stripe, a moth which is camouflaged to look like Turkey-tail fungus and which tends to come to the lights in windows, where it can be found at rest during the day.

The Shoulder-stripe looks very like bark fungus. The is just one of two variations of this moth.

The Shoulder-stripe looks very like bark fungus. This one is just one of two variations of this moth.

During the spring there are, of course, many bird species to see. Many of these birds are insect hunters and it is mostly to fool these creatures that moths need their terrific camouflage.

The reason moths need to be so well camouflaged is due to the ever-watchful eyes of birds. Birds will often spot moths at rest, and grab them for a meal, particularly in spring when they are nesting. This Robin, never misses a chance for extra nourishment.
The reason moths need to be so well camouflaged is due to the ever-watchful eyes of birds. Birds will often spot moths at rest, and grab them for a meal, particularly in spring when they are nesting. This Robin, never misses a chance for extra nourishment.