Warm, Wet, Windy and Weird

Oleander Hawkmoth

Autumn can be one of the most exciting times of the year for nature lovers, migration is in full swing and wild, unpredictable weather can deposit rare species in the most unusual of places.

The recent spell of warm, wet, windy and frankly weird weather has delighted moth lovers by bringing a deluge of colourful migrant moths to our shores.

Warm and moist winds from the Continent have carried with them an array of rarely seen gems.

Oleander Hawk mothThe south coast and Dorset in particular has proved the key location for unexpected immigrants with a spectacular Oleander Hawk-moth Dahpnis nerii (pictured left) appearing at Durlston County Park near Swanage earlier this week.

The beautiful, thumb-sized moth, normally found in North Africa and Southern Europe, is a rare visitor to the UK. It’s swirl of cream, pink and green markings make it totally unmistakeable.

A handful reach our shores each autumn, apart from 1953 when an unprecedented 13 were recorded, so the Oleander’s arrival attracted many moth-ers to Durlston desperate to catch a glimpse.

Another rare migrant – the Slender Burnished Brass Thysanoplusia orichalcea also hitched up in the fantastically named Puddletown, Dorset, at around the same time.

Crimson SpeckledThe moth which is normally found in North Africa and the Mediterranean area has only been recorded in the UK around 100 times.

On the east coast a Crimson Speckled moth Utethesia pulchella (pictured right) got in on the immigration act turning up at Holkham in Norfolk and was a first for the county.

The Mediterranean species’ red, black and white markings make it one of the most beautiful moths to reach UK shores.

If the weather gods conspire then the next few weeks hold the promise of more continental delights with even the chance of the rare and spectacular Monarch butterfly putting in an appearance.

Liam Creedon

Follow me on Twitter @liamcreedon

Thanks to Steve Covey for the Oleander Hawk-moth images.