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2856 Views 6 Replies Last post: Sep 1, 2011 6:34 PM by Ruth Bennett RSS
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Aug 16, 2010 9:13 PM

Lotts of Loverly Rare Toadflax Brocade Moth Caterpillies in Saff Londin?

They munched on my tall self-seeded purple Toadflax last year. This year I have a late summer second visiting brood of up to 30 plump pupas. (More than I have ever seen.) I'm perfectly happy to witness the caterpillars ravaging their chosen attractive potted flora outside my back door. A torrent of sudden recent rain washed many off the plant to inevitable perdition. As their self-appointed nurseryman I was prepared and gathered the flooded out victims with umbrella as an immediate precarious shelter during the downpour while putting them back onto their preferred dining-flower. I was absolutely sodden. I have since erected a makeshift awning over them for fear of additional forecast southern storms. I would be interested to know whether Toadflax Brocades are, indeed, rare in London or elsewhere in the UK.  
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  • You are fortunate indeed to have such a wealth of the Toadflax brocade moth caterpillar (Calophasia lunula) on your doorstep (literally). This species is classified as rare in Britain. It colonised Britain relatively recently (1950), but now appears to be in decline. It is found in a relatively small number of sites including a number in Greater London, along the Kent and Sussex coastline, and was historically recorded from Essex. The species has been observed in most European countries and has become established in North America following an introduction.

    As this moth is at the northern extreme of its range in the UK, it seems that climatic factors are the major reason that its distribution here is so restricted. In periods of poor weather, the range often decreases. In addition to this, the remaining coastal shingle habitat is under pressure from development and coastal defence work.

    Have a look at the distribution map on the NBN and make sure your population is recorded with GiGL http://www.searchnbn.net/gridMap/gridMap.jsp?allDs=1&srchSpKey=NBNSYS0000006316.

    Take good care of your brood..... it sounds as if you are doing a pretty good job!

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  • We spotted a Toadflax Brocade Moth caterpillar yesterday outside our local park in Eastwood, Essex. It took ages to track down what it was on the internet, as it was not listed or pictured in the Readers Digest book of Butterflies and insects in Great Britain (which we always refer to first!). Perhaps it is starting to make come back in Essex?
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