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 (Orthosia cerasi)
Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda)
Twin Spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda)
Powdered Quaker (Orthosia gracilis)
Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)
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.