Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Dunwich Heath Again - Do You Recognise This Caterpillar?

There were few butterflies about on Dunwich Heath last Sunday afternoon but, most obligingly, this Small Copper perched for a while near our favourite seat. I have been wondering about the plant: do you think it is Heath Speedwell? It was definitely more pink than blue to my eyes, though there could be a touch of mauve in there somewhere. The area comprised dry sandy heathland, so the Pink Water Speedwell seems an unlikely alternative. 

While I was looking for butterflies in the heather, David noticed a tiny 'snake' (well, a caterpillar) in the grass by his feet. I have posted these pictures on iSpot, but do let me know if you recognise it. It couldn't be a Grayling larva, could it? I have seen the adult butterflies in this area.

It made me wonder why some lepidopteran larvae have sideways stripes (e.g. the Cinnabar moth with its black and orange bands and the Swallowtail butterfly with its segments of green, black and amber) while others (e.g. the Shoulder-striped Clover moth) have lengthways ones. The Striped Hawkmoth caterpillar seems to have lines going in both directions! These linear markings must be to do with camouflage and particular habitats.  

And speaking of camouflage, this moth below, blended in so beautifully with its sandy environment that I would have missed it all together if it had not fluttered its wings. Doesn't it blend perfectly with the bits of twig? After a while it flew along the side of the heather and gorse, and was equally well hidden. I'm guessing it is a Common Heath (too pale and indistinct for a Lattice Heath?), but again I have posted it on iSpot.

We ended our walk with a pot of Earl Grey in our favourite cafe in Dunwich. David had a slice of lemon curd cake and I chose the coffee and walnut. I'm afraid we were hungry and gobbled them up before I thought to take a photo!

For more on wing colour, pattern and iridescence you might find this article from Exeter University of interest. I am always fascinated by iridescence.


Donna said...

That is some fine spotting of critters in the sand as they do camouflage so beautifully.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Saw a brown argus the otherday, first in a long while!

L. D. said...

More butterflies and less worms. I do know that they are necessary to get the butterflies. I was being silly.

Caroline Gill said...

L.D. - ;-) I think we all think that in terms of the havoc they cause, but some are very beautiful all the same!

Donna - thank you, and yes the sand makes a good camouflage.

Si - Have not seen a Brown Argus for a long time...

Thank you all for your comments.

Ragged Robin said...

Lovely camouflage on the caterpillar. Another interesting post Caroline and both cakes sound delicious :)

Lowcarb team member said...

Sometimes camouflage is amazing.
I enjoyed seeing your photographs.
Your tea and cakes sound delicious.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

I've come back to this post, and was surprised I hadn't commented … because I remember you mentioned the cakes and the pot of Earl Grey Tea.

Anyway, a nice post.

All the best Jan

Crafty Green Poet said...

Speedwells are one of the groups of flowers I'm poor at identifying, moths are similar! Nice sightings and photos!