28 April 2017 - Caliban's Treat

Agonopterix heracliana with Campion bud
Clean, warm, sunlight and red campions - the quarry at Shandy Hall is starting to fill with green, and the green itself is gently tinged with pink. A surprise, midway through the afternoon, to encounter a moth.  Olivia's handy phone took the photograph and it didn't take long to identify the species.  The Common Flat Body is not an inspired name and the moth tends to be known by its scientific name Agonopterix heracliana.  There was one in the moth trap in 2014 but otherwise this apparently common moth is not seen in this garden in Coxwold.  

There are plenty of suitable plants in the quarry upon which the female could choose to lay eggs, and most of those larval food-plants are umbelliferous - Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), Rough Chervil (Chaerophyllum temulum), Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria) and the one the rabbits (or squirrels) are enjoying digging up, the delicately fronded Pignut (Conopodium majus). All are plants the caterpillars will happily munch through - and a number of others besides.

Pignut (Conopodium majus) beneath Comfrey flower

"I prithee, let me bring thee where crabs grow; and I with my long nails will dig thee pignuts" said Caliban in The Tempest. Apparently the tubers taste like chestnuts and are perfectly safe to eat.