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This common moth is definitely a ‘Wonder of the Day’ with its outstanding colours and patterns. It is ‘designed’ to disappear when resting on a lichen covered tree trunk in an ancient oak wood which is classically its habitat. Although it has been found here from the end of August to the beginning of October it clearly peaks in numbers between the end of September and the first weeks of October.

Most of the 186 records in D&G are specimens from light traps although a few sharp-eyed people have recorded the moth by day. Elsewhere in the UK it is widespread on the mainland including in the valley woods of Scotland although absent from most islands because of the lack of suitable woodland. A lot of the Scottish records are recent suggesting this might be another species which is expanding its range.

It is essentially a moth of mature woodland as its food plant is oak. The adults are well known for feeding on autumnal berries such as blackberries. The female lays her eggs on the bark of oak and the eggs are also cryptically coloured as they have to remain hidden from the birds until spring. The young caterpillars feed at first on the buds of oak but later on the leaves. The mature caterpillar is greyish brown or greyish green with a slim, broken white stripe along its back. Either side are black chevrons with dark mottling broken only by a few small, pale spots. These markings and colours make the caterpillar also very cryptic as it lies in crevices in the bark during the day, only feeding at night! The fully grown caterpillar crawls down to the base of the tree to pupate in the soil around the roots.

Merveille du Jour Griposia aprilina
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