Sunday, 1 October 2017

Beautiful Peacock

Walking on Pevensey Levels during the last week, there has been a definite end-of-season feel. Hedges have been cut, pasture meadows have been mown and the maize crop has been harvested.
 
The third brood of Wall (Lasiommata megera) is just peaking and fresh looking Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) and Peacock (Inachis io) are fairly numerous.
 
For me, the Peacock is our most beautiful butterfly; its rich velvety plum colour together with metallic blue eye-spots make a stunning combination. Sometimes, extra spots appear on the hind wings (aberration diophthalmica).
 
 
Peacock (Inachis io) (male)
 
 
 
Peacock (I.io) (male) (ab.diophthalmica)

 
 
Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) (female)

 
 
 
Pevensey Levels are very much an agricultural landscape, with sheep and cattle pastures dissected by ditches and water drains. At this time of year, many of the ditches become clogged with floating pennywort, an invasive water weed that needs to be raked out every winter. However, the pennywort does provide an excellent breeding habitat for the Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius) and the cattle regularly graze upon it at the ditch edges.
 
The female plantarius in the photograph is guarding her nursery web near the middle of a ditch and out of reach of these curious cattle.
 
 
Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius) (female at nursery web)

 
 
The season is also being reflected in the moth species that are starting to appear at the moth-trap in my Wealden garden. As well as some autumnal resident species, the star of the week was the appearance of a Delicate (Mythimna vitellina), a scarce annual migrant to the UK and a first record for my garden.
 
 
Delicate (Mythimna vitellina)


 
 
Autumnal Rustic (Eugnorisma glareosa)

 
 
Black Rustic (Aporophyla nigra)

 
 
Since recording my first Blue Underwing (Catocala fraxini) of the year a month ago, four more have appeared during the last week, three in one night. Whether they have emanated from a local breeding population or from a migration event is unclear but they have been appearing regularly at moth-traps across Sussex in recent weeks.
 
 
Blue Underwing (Catocala fraxini)
 
 
A second fraxini posed nicely for a photograph until the shutter was released, producing an image that will be familiar to many insect photographers!

 

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