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World Owl Trust - leading the World in Owl Conservation

Text Version Last Updated: September 17, 2014 18:40

Monday 22nd September, 2014

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Wulf’s Blog

Wulf

Wednesday 17th September 2014

It’s been a quiet week. The weather has continued to be ‘set fair’. The visitors at ‘Meet the Birds’ has been very attentive, which has traditionally always been the case at this time of year. All the children gone back to school and the audience are made up, mostly of adults of advancing years.

Hilary, our Conservation Officer has just done the yearly moth count. This is the monitoring of our local population of ‘Netted Carpet Moths’. We are fortunate here at Muncaster to have this particular species here, as it is the UK’s second rarest insect. Key to this fact is that we also have a few colonies of the yellow ‘Touch Me Not’ Balsam, not to be confused with the invasive alien ‘Himalayan Balsam, which is a pest species. The Yellow Balsam is a rare native annual, which also happens to be the sole food plant for the Netted Carpet Moth. At this time of year, the adult moths have laid eggs on the plants, which by now have hatched. It is possible at this stage to look for the caterpillars on the underside of the leaves, and count them. Numbers have been down compared with last year, but a new colony of Yellow Balsam has established itself in Hirst Park, the rough pasture near the river Esk, and 14 individual caterpillars were counted there. This sounds like a very modest number, but what is significant, is the fact that the Netted Carpet Moth must be around in sufficient numbers to have discovered this new colony and have capitalized on it.

See you next week

Wulf

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