Species of the Month - May 2016
Common Heath (moth)
is probably the commonest day-flying moth to be seen on heathery ground in May and June.
The markings are somewhat variable but it is easily recognised if you
get a good view.
Front and rear view of a male Common Heath with broadly feathered antennae. The male has less contrast between the
wing markings and the background than the female.
Female Common Heath with non-feathered antennae. Females are more
often seen than males in my experience.
The Common Heath can lead you quite a dance before it settles and then is often behind bits of vegetation making it difficult to photograph.
only similar-looking species is
Latticed Heath which I have
never seen or had reported, but which could occur at the same time of
year in the same habitats. It has lines going up and down the wing
as well as across it, to create a latticed effect.
The caterpillar is about in July and August. It feeds mainly on heathers but also plants of the pea family such as clover and Birdsfoot Trefoil. This one is on a birch twig for some reason, but heather was growing nearby. It's the only one I've ever found; they're probably better camouflaged when on heather. It was confirmed by Roy Leverton as a Common Heath larva.
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12 May: One seen by Sallie Jack in Glen Suileag, near Fassfern
18 May: This one was photographed by Jan Hamilton in Glen Etive.
24 May: Seen by Sallie in Glen Nevis
26 May: Several on Ardnish peninsula, Arisaig, by Sallie
Note you can still send in records for past species of the month. Here are the previous May species: