They say “You should always expect the unexpected” and it seems I should. Today, at lunchtime I decided to deploy the pheromone lures for clearwing moths, these are artificial chemicals that mimic those released by female moths to attract the males. They have been synthesised for most of the clearwing moths, a strange group of day-flying moths that look like wasps and are usually very rarely seen. The use of pheromone lures has made finding them somewhat easier, but they are still not that readily seen.
At Blashford we could have several species of these moths, but I have only ever seen and attracted to a lure, the red-tipped clearwing. Today I tried four lures for a range of species including yellow-legged clearwing, whose larvae feed on oak, of which we have lots. I sat back an ate lunch whilst keeping an eye on the lures. I expected to see something at the red-tipped lure, but there was no luck. Then at the yellow-legged lure there was a moth, hovering continuously around the lure, I grabbed the camera and got the best flight shots I could at 1/1000th of a second.
However this was not the expected yellow-legged clearwing, but the other species that can come to the same lure, the orange-tipped clearwing, in Hampshire a moth of the chalk downs where the larvae feed on wayfaring-tree. Blashford is not on the downs and does not have wayfaring-tree, however we do have a few guelder-rose a less frequently used food-plant and I assume this must be what they are feeding on.
Pretty creature. Nice lunchtime treat 😉