Skip to content

Brooding, a Frog, Goldies and a Big Moth!

The bantams have spent the last two months being very broody, one being particularly prone to spending the day on the nest. So there was a period when we got no bantam eggs at all, which greatly disappointed our best customer. But they are back laying again now, though they don’t give an egg a day by any means. The layers are a bit better, although one or two of them were quite broody too. So egg production has dropped a little at the moment.

The hens were out around the garden the other evening and my wife noticed what she thought was a small bird in one of their beaks. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a small frog that she had caught and was eating. Poor frog, but that’s nature.

Although the sparrows build nests in both nest boxes they never actually got around to making a home in them, which is a pity. I have plenty of birds – sparrows and swallows – nesting in the eaves of the house, however. I am being slowly colonised by our feathered friends.

My goldies are thriving and the pond is alive with plants, insects, pond skaters and creatures I don’t even recognise. I was sitting watching the fish today and noticed this very colourful moth on the ground.

Elephant Hawk Moth

Although I have never seen this moth before, apparently it is common in Ireland. According to Wikipedia, The adult feeds at night, and often takes nectar from plants like honeysuckle and petunia, so it is quite often seen in urban settings in the evening. The moth has a wing span typically between 50 and 70 mm. It is spectacularly coloured, seeming to shimmer with green and red when in motion. The adult moths are eaten by some species of bats.

The larva is about 75mm long, green and brown in colour. Like most hawk moth caterpillars, they have a backward curving spine or “horn” on the final abdominal segment. The anterior of the caterpillar appears to have the shape of a trunk-like snout. It is this elephant look, rather than its large size, that gives the moth its name. When startled, the caterpillar draws its trunk into its foremost body segment. This posture resembles a snake with a large head and four large eye-like patches. Caterpillars are preyed upon by birds, but these shy away (at least for some time) from caterpillars in “snake” pose. It is not known whether the birds take the caterpillar to actually resemble a snake, or are frightened by the sudden change of a familiar prey item into an unusual and boldly-patterned shape (Stevens 2005).

The preferred food plants of the caterpillar are willowherb and bedstraw, though it will also take fuchias.

If you liked this post, you might also like:

Receive new articles from Baldongan by subscribing to my RSS Feed or by email subscription.

You can also share this post by using one or more of the buttons at the top and bottom of the post. And don’t forget that we welcome comments too.

Thanks for visiting!

Leave a Reply