Something to spot, something to smell, something to taste!

Its that time of year…. the Othosian  explosion, it’s happening somewhere near you!

This involves quaker moths and willow trees

This is the time of year to spot some of the most abundant moth species in your garden, as well as when you shine a light up into a flowering willow on a warm still evening. The species you may see are:

Common Quaker © Justin Groves The University of Reading

Common Quaker © Justin Groves The University of Reading

Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)

Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda)

Twin Spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda)

Powdered Quaker © Justin Groves The University of Reading

Powdered Quaker © Justin Groves The University of Reading

Powdered Quaker  (Orthosia gracilis)

Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)

Hebrew Character © Justin Groves The University of Reading

Hebrew Character © Justin Groves The University of Reading

Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)

They exploit the dioecious (separate male and female) willow trees especially of Pussy or Goat Willow (Salix caprea), Grey Willow (salix cinerea) and Crack Willow (Salix fragilis) for nectar sources, mating opportunities and to lay eggs on the buds and fresh shoots (the species mentioned will also exploit other trees and herbaceous plants for caterpillar food plants).  In return they pollinate the willows.

Other moth species such as Blossom Underwing (Orthosia miniosa) which will also exploit the nectar source on warm nights even though their main food plant is Oak (Quercus robur) in this area.

You may well notice the willows smell fragrant at this time of year, before you see the tree, due to the abundant pollen and nectar which is produced. This pollen and nectar also attracts other species such many bee, blue tits and grey squirrels from personal observation which again aid pollination.

The nectar is also tastes very sweet when you touch the flowers, especially of the pussy willow with the nectar almost dripping from them.

About Justin Anthony Groves

As a student of Ecology and Conservation at Reading University i am very interested many other insect groups, botany and the interaction in nature. Over a number of blogs I hope to pass my knowledge to others but also gain from the many other interesting posts.
This entry was posted in Animals, Insects, Lepidoptera, Moths. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.