Last week I was taking advantage of a classic photo opportunity. Who could resist it? A Red Admiral butterfly posing elegantly in the late afternoon sunshine, sipping nectar from a Buddleja flower. But hang on a minute “you at the back, yes the ugly one, move out of the shot please and who are you anyway?” Well, after consulting with the very knowledgeable Dr Ian Bedford, who knows about these things, it turns out it is a Silver Y moth. The Latin name for the Red Admiral is Vanessa atalanta, its caterpillars’ primary food source is stinging nettles (can’t think how they could possibly survive in our pristine garden) where they make a safe den to both feed and live in by spinning leaves together. The Silver Y’s Latin name is Autographa gamma and its young similarly enjoy nettles (please see note above) but also like to dine on pea plants and cabbages. This moth can be a pest on the allotment but I would imagine the “bad old” Cabbage White butterfly gets the blame for most of his misdemeanors.
The adult Red Admiral and Silver Y, do however, drink at the same pub. It is called the Buddleja Arms. ps I don’t really think you are ugly Silver Y, just a little more understated than the flashy RA.