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GO WILDwith eric paylor.

TEESSIDE'S night-flying moths appear to have benefitted from the relatively dry spring and early summer weather.

My moth trap has been yielding a number of very interesting specimens, including this peppered moth, which I managed to photograph.

The mottled appearance of the peppered moth is impressive and unusual, yet it is a regular visitor to our gardens. We are just usually unaware of it because it flies at night.

Students of history are very familiar with the peppered moth because it is one of the best known examples of evolution by natural selection, and is sometimes called Darwin's moth.

The peppered moth, which is brilliantly camouflaged on lichen covered tree trunks, has a black form that is more likely to be taken by predators.

However in the 19th Century it was noted that the black form was the more common variety, due to the fact that industrialisation and domestic coal fires had killed off lichens and blackened tree trunks. So the black form became the best camouflaged.

For example, the first black peppered moth was recorded in Manchester in 1848 and by 1895 98 per cent of the city's peppered moths were black.

Over the past 60 or 70 years the process has been in reverse thanks to cleaner air.

Now the pale peppered moths are again much more common than the black forms.

From moths to mammals, and I have spotted quite a few hares in and around Cleveland over the past few weeks.

In fact there was one in the car park at RSPB Saltholme the other day, which appeared to be oblivious to my presence.

Later on in the same day I had to pull up sharply on a nearby road when a confused young hare was wandering around.

It was the smallest hare I have ever seen and must have just left its form.

And finally, not all iconic wildlife moments occur during countryside or coastal strolls.

I was driving near Hartlepool's Ward Jackson Park the other day when I had to stop quickly at a zebra crossing because an individual was standing patiently on the kerb and ready to cross the road.

It was a male mallard, which waited until I stopped before slowly waddling across the crossing to the other side of the road.

A duck with road sense! Wonderful. I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

| If you have noted any interesting or unusual wildlife sightings in and around Teesside and Cleveland lately, contact Eric on


Peppered moth

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 26, 2019
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