Camouflaged caterpillar makes an entrance

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It is many years since I found my first Chamomile Shark caterpillar on the coast, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

However, this summer I have found several, each as magnificent as that first one.

As you can see from my photograph, these are stunning animals in a striking and very conspicuous pattern of cream, green and mauve.

However, when on the stems of their favourite mayweed food plant they are superbly camouflaged and well nigh invisible.

Maybe I should explain Chamomile Shark is a scarce species of moth. As far as I know I have never come across the moth in its adult state, though I did catch its close cousin, the Shark moth, recently.

These two large pale moths are difficult to tell apart but get their name from a shark fin-shaped tuft of hair on their nape.

Monitoring moths and butterflies is widely used as a means of detecting changes in the environment.

These insects are quick to respond to fluctuations in habitat, land use, climate and such like.

It is also a simple means of judging biodiversity or, put simply,the number of species on a site.

As most moths and butterflies like to lay their eggs on specific plants, generally the more plant species, the more insect species you will find.

These surveys may sound simple enough but have to be done as near as possible to the same dates every year.

Of course, the problem with that is our wonderful Scottish weather!

Often when a survey is due the skies are dark, the wind is howling and not an insect is to be seen.

However, in Scotland you can also be sure of the weather changing. Then the sharks come out!

The National Moth Recording Scheme was launched in 2007. For more information go to www.mothscount.org