I'm in the midst of a busy period engaging in wildlife activities with a couple of local schools. Yesterday I visited one Lower School to empty a moth trap I had set up overnight and to lead a walk around the grounds for a Reception Class.
On the way to the school I suddenly noticed a massive bright blue butterfly fluttering in the graveyard just the other side of a low bush. My pulse rose as I realised that I'd come across something really special.....and then I stepped around the bush to find this....
There were a number of great butterflies in the trap, including Elephant- and Small Elephant Hawkmoth, which were a hit with the children. We hunted around the local area, looking under objects and shaking trees onto a white sheet, uncovering various invertebrates including Froghoppers, Woodlice (including a brooding female), Spiders and a Common Quaker caterpillar.
This morning I visited another local school and, over 2 hours, showed each of the classes in turn some of our neighbourhood moths. The children were amazed to discover the wonderful variety of moths of all kinds of size, colour and shape that were flying around their homes while they slept. The 6 Hawkmoth species that I had managed to find certainly made their day, especially the Pine Hawkmoth which suddenly took off for a few circuits around the hall during the last session; the Peppered Moth & Buff-tip were a great advert for a discussion on camouflage; and the life-cycle of the Bee Moth was the equivalent of a horror story regarding the local Bee populations!
This photo, albeit poor quality, shows some of the 'cool' moths that the children enjoyed out of the 30 or so species I took in!