Spring Usher (Agriopis leucophaearia)

Like so many geometers on the wing in winter and in early spring the Spring Usher is extremely variable, at least the male is. It has no use trying to describe him. Look at the various pictures and see for yourself that all specimens are completely different. Even the ground colour varies from white through brown to grey. Luckily it flies when there are not that many species about and that makes identifying him not such a task. It helps knowing it is not a very large species, reaching a wingspan of 31 to 37 mm. The females are completely wingless and look like rather big spiders. You might obtain them by shaking the branches of a tree.

The eggs are deposited in winter, but the caterpillar does not emerge before April or May. They are yellowish white or greyish. On the back are clear V or U markings, with a big black dot below them on either side of the back. The head usually is greyish. The larvae seem to live on oak mainly but are sometimes found on fruit trees, especially apple. In June the larvae pupate.

The main time to see adults is from mid-February to mid-March, even though occasionally they are seen in January or April. It prefers oak on light soil and is not afraid of human activities, being seen regularly in parks, orchards and gardens at night and resting on walls and fences by day. A common species in England and Wales. Local in Southern Scotland, absent in the North. The Spring Usher is not an Irish species. Common, but sometimes local all over Europe, except for northern regions, such as northern Scandinavia.