Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chandos Road, Ampthill (via Duck End Nature Reserve!)

I was excited this morning to find this moth – a Snout (for obvious reasons!) – perched in my home-made breeding tray! I had swept the larva/caterpillar from a Hawthorn tree at Duck End on 27th April and, encouraged by an e-mail from Andy & Melissa’s to the Bedfordshire Moth Group, decided to have a go at breeding it through in order to find out what it would turn in to. Having e-mailed my news to Melissa, I’ve discovered that this is the earliest ever Snout recorded from Bedfordshire…..there is a ‘but’ though, which I’ll come to…

A few days after incarcerating the larva in a tube, I had to go to Plymouth for our annual national Baptist gathering. The sprig of Hawthorn inside was already looking decidedly wilted and unfit for larval consumption so, at the last minute, I decided to pack it in my suitcase in order to give its occupant some TLC! But, having settled into the Premier Inn next to the Quay, I ended up wandering the local streets between seminars and gatherings desperately looking for a fresh sprig of Hawthorn! The only Hawthorn I could find was frustratingly out of reach hanging over the high wall of a private garden next to the Aquarium! On the Saturday, I even took a long detour back to the hotel following a seminar at the University – passing through a local park and alongside some old railway sidings – but still to no avail.

In desperation I enlisted the help of my Associate Pastor, making sure that no one was in sight, and our name badges out of sight, before hoisting him up the high wall to grab some fresh Hawthorn salad…only to find that the larva had given up waiting and gone and pupated!

And so to the ‘but’. I had to admit to Melissa that the larva and pupa had spent most of these past freezing weeks inside my study (I didn’t mention Room 79 at the Premier Inn!) and she cried ‘foul’! I should have kept it outside so, although it remains the earliest ever Snout recorded in Bedfordshire, it has to be noted that it had a bit of help. Porter, the caterpillar Bible, says that they spend 3 weeks in a pupal state, but mine was only 2 and a bit weeks, no doubt due to the controlled climate! But I still have the dubious distinction of having recorded the first Snout larva in Bedfordshire!

And there is one more thing…Melissa informs me that the foodplant is not Hawthorn, but Nettles….of which there were countless patches in Plymouth!!

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