Here are a few recent photos from the Rowley Hills taken over the summer. Our Bee Orchids returned once again, and we had a couple of new and notable insect sightings – Black and Red Squashbug (Corizus hyoscyami) which has only been recorded once before in the Black Country, and Long-winged Conehead (Conocephalus fuscus), the first time this species has been recorded on the Rowley Hills. Both of these species are thought to be spreading northwards, probably due to climate change, so sightings are likely to increase in coming years.
Do you have willow or poplar trees in your garden? If so, it’s worth searching for the fascinating caterpillars of the Puss Moth. They are frequent visitors to a local garden on the Rowley Hills where the residents have regularly studied their progress from eggs through to adult moths.
Once mating has taken place the female moths deposit small batches of brownish-coloured eggs on leaves of their food plant, in this case two small willow trees in their back garden.
Upon hatching the young caterpillars feed almost constantly for around four weeks and pass through several stages until fully grown.
In some years predation by birds, wasps and even Harlequin Ladybirds takes a heavy toll, but generally enough of them survive to maturity, ensuring there will be moths again the following year.
They spend the winter in a tough cocoon attached to tree trunks or wooden posts, then the newly-emerged moths seek out the food plant, and the cycle begins again.