Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Tue 31 May 2011 Balindore

This was an expedition to look for the Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth following the advice given on http://southwestscotland-butterflies.org.uk/blog/?p=309

I had warned everyone that we needed warm sunny dry and calm conditions, which had been notably absent of late.  As it happened we were very lucky with the weather.  The sun came out and warmed things up a bit, and we saw two definite bee hawkmoths and a suspected further two.  They moved very fast and there seemed no chance of getting a photo.  Finally Sallie found a third which she followed to its resting-place where we could admire it at leisure and take all the photos we wanted.

Hemaris tityus

Here it is.  Note the curled proboscis which it uses to extract nectar from flowers while hovering in front of them like a hummingbird.  The flowers it prefers are Bugle and Lousewort.  The places where we found it had plenty of Bugle but we only saw it at Lousewort flowers, and this one is resting beside Lousewort.  The moth is a bumblebee mimic but much bigger than any bumblebee.
 

Carterocephalus palaemon   Opsibotys fuscalis

This Chequered Skipper found by Chris was the furthest south ever recorded since the English populations died out.  Interesting that with so many species spreading north due to global warming, this one is spreading south.

The small triangular moth Opsibotys fuscalis was present everywhere in large numbers.  Its larvae eat Yellow-rattle and Cow-wheat, both of which occur in the area but not in large amounts.  I can't help suspecting it is using another plant in the same family such as Lousewort, and hope to check this later in the year.
 

Calopteryx virgo, male

 

Calopteryx virgo, female

Another spectacular find was the Beautiful Demoiselle.  Male above, female below.
 

Vaccinium uliginosum   Platanthera bifolia

Chris found a remarkable patch of Northern Bilberry at only 50 m altitude.  This is normally a mountain plant in Argyll.  Several Lesser Butterfly Orchids were seen, with their lowest flowers having just opened.
 

Ranunculus hederaceus   Tyria jacobaeae

Ivy-leaved Crowfoot in flower, and a Cinnabar Moth in the sun.
 

Rhogogaster viridis   Rhagio scolopaceus

Chris found this attractive sawfly Rhogogaster viridis, and the Snipe Fly landed on Catherine's rucksack while we had lunch.

 

       
                 

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer