Tiny furry friend creeps in to garden

DONCASTER wildlife lover Jennifer Edge has given a warm welcome to the borough's newest species.

Tuesday, 2nd October 2007, 2:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th October 2007, 10:55 am

Mrs Edge, of Warmsworth Road, Balby, uncovered what experts believe to be only the second recorded finding of a rare sycamore caterpillar in the Doncaster area, which they believe shows it is now colonising the borough.

And Mrs Edge believes it could be sign of global warming.

She stumbled across the distinctive insect while gardening, and took it to Doncaster museum's natural history expert, environmental records officer Colin Howes, after she was unable to find it in her own wildlife books.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

She said: "I couldn't find it in any of my own books, so I took a photo to the museum, where they were excited. He said it was only the second of that type found in the Yorkshire area.

"They are usually found in warmer areas, and I think it has arrived here because of global warming.

"I had never seen anything like it in my garden and that was why I took it to the museum, where they are keen to hear from people who see anything unusual in their gardens, so they can see how far things are spreading north."

The caterpillar was about 1.5 inches long. Experts say the species, commonly known as the sycamore but which has the scientific name acronicta averis linnaueus, is common in southern and central England but absent from Northern England, Scotland and Ireland.

They have greyish brown bodies, covered with dense tufts of long pale yellow or orange hairs, with four pairs of reddish hair tufts on the back.

The moth it eventually becomes is less distinctive.

Keen gardener Mrs Edge was brought up with a love of nature and her father was for many years groundsman at Hexthorpe's Eden Grove sports club.

Mr Howes told her there had been several cases of sycamore moths in Yorkshire, but it was possible they may have been blown into the area, drifting on the wind.

But he told her that the finding of a caterpillar was significant because it indicated they were now breeding in the area and were establishing a population.

The last report was in Scawthorpe two years ago.