Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Up the Reds!

We saw, on 17th June, a 5-Spot Burnet Moth. Now, we go one stage better and find a 6-Spot Burnet! (Zygaena filipendulae).
Often difficult to separate from the 5-Spot Burnet as the two front spots are very close together and often fused together. It is however, an entirely separate species. A day-flying moth like the 5-Spot, it's spots are sometimes yellowish in colour or even black, which would make them even more difficult to distinguish against a black background! Again, like the 5-Spot, it pupates in a papery cocoon attached to grass stems.
Now bursting into flower is a lowly looking plant of the grassy path-sides, Red Bartsia (Odontites verna).
You need to look fairly closely to see the lovely little flowers of this plant. The whole plant can feel 'sticky' to the touch. It is rather common but easily ignored, but in times gone by, it was used as a cure for toothache. It is from this property where it gets it's scientific name, 'odons' meaning tooth in Greek.
Red Bartsia is a semi-parasitic plant on the roots of the grasses among which it grows. The flowers are great favourite of bees.
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