Today, 22 May, is the International Day of Biodiversity. In the spirit of such an event a group of us, under the auspices of Butterfly Conservation, went on a caterpillar foray in Brede High Woods.
The weather was glorious, but the adult butterflies rather few. Despite enlightened management species like the grizzled skipper, the green hairstreak or the pearl-bordered fritillary no longer seem to be present.
However, there was a compensation. In a waist high grove of aspen suckers we found several groups of the larvae of the ladybird-like leaf beetle Gonioctena decemnotata, a Nationally Notable (B) species normally found on aspen.
The remarkable thing was that each group of the black leaf-munching larvae was guarded nearby by an adult, presumably mother.
Such solicitousness for offspring is rare in the insect world and I would imagine a small vegetarian beetle would have minimal ability to drive off a hungry predator. Does the red colour, I wonder, act as a sort of stop light and say "keep your distance."
The only other East Sussex record for this species I can find is from Bixley Wood a few miles from the Brede High Wood site.