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The brimstone moth


by Richard Jones

Last week there were 13 newts in the pond, we couldn't move for holly blues and then the swifts were back.


Brimstone moth on leafOur first barbecue of the season was Sunday 3 May, so much pottering about in the garden sunshine. It's all happening out there now. Last week there were 13 newts in the pond, we couldn't move for holly blues and then the swifts were back. It's amazing that weather can be wholly different one year to the next, but the swifts ride the same winds and arrive at the same time regardless. Last year they arrived on 4 May, the year before on 2 May.

I can tell it's getting warmer when the bathroom window remains open all night without complaint from the females in the house. And with the window open we get visitors. This morning it was a brimstone moth, Opisthograptis luteolata, decorating the white wall tiles. Although this is an extremely common moth, it is a delight in its form and colours. Startlingly bright against the blank tiles, it is nevertheless very well camouflaged in a more natural setting, looking for all the world like a fading dead leaf. The photograph above doesn't really do it justice. Of course, when I took it down to the kitchen and forced it to sit on a large leaf, it refused to adopt a picturesque position.

It has a delicate jaunty flutter, hopping this way, then that, through the air. According to my guides the caterpillars feed on hawthorn, blackthorn, rowan and plum. Plenty of those in nearby gardens. I let it out of the back door at 10 o'clock at night and it rose up into the darkness, its ghostly colour flickering off into the void.



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Gardeners' World Web User 06/05/2009 at 20:41

im very pleased that i have 2 families of blue-tits nesting in 2 nest boxes,1 at the back of my house and 1 at the side of my house.still only got 2 newts though...but many frogs still no spawn oh well maybe next year,although i would rather have newt-spawn[i would love to have great-crested newts in my pond.anyone got any ideas how i can encourage them in my garden.....

Gardeners' World Web User 07/05/2009 at 19:21

It is nice to know that someone else appreciates the beauty of moths too. :)

Gardeners' World Web User 13/05/2009 at 09:34

One of the newts in my pond has gone all bloated & lying on the top, mainly on it's back. (None of the other newts are effected) If I just touch it, it's legs go like mad, but the rest of the time it just lies there! This it the third day in this condition. Any suggestions?

Gardeners' World Web User 16/05/2009 at 08:59

I have also put this story in under the wind damage article but I think it belongs here too (it involves wildlife and damage!). I thought my pansies were being dug up by a blackbird collecting mud to glue her nest together (I had seen her at it, having been cursing cats and doing them a rare disservice!). I decided to plant a euonymus in this particular planter where the pansies are instead so there would be less bare earth to tempt Mrs Blackbird. I dug down and hit something soft and white. I thought maybe an underground fungus or something. It turned out in fact to be a whacking great triangular piece of smelly soft cheese!! I have been racking my brains about what creature could have buried this. I have 3 kids but they certainly didn't do it and the cheese wasn't from our house! No rodent could have carried something so big so I am thinking maybe a fox. I put 2 bricks either side of the euonymus to deter further digging. What I really need is an infra red camera and Bill Oddie....

Gardeners' World Web User 16/05/2009 at 12:55

to audrey,maybe your newt has broke its leg or somekind of infection as you say it is bloated,i would take it to the vets there is no charge to take wildlife animals[normally] well my 2 vets dont charge and they told me that or contact rspca....for advice...remember if it does have an infection it will pass to the others in your pond...they cant show pain like us.

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