Friday, 30 August 2013


There were some anomalies in and around the moth trap this morning. Or, to be more, accurate there were three Anomalous. These subtly beautiful grey moths are mainly a moorland species, commoner in the north and west than in the south and east. My position on the edge of the Long Mynd means that I get a handful of these open country species, which are not commonly found in many gardens.

The Anomalous

Another apparent anomaly was a September Thorn, perhaps an unusual sight in August. Was it early? Well it was in fact quite late, as this species emerges in July. There is a very similar moth called an August Thorn (which does fly in August), but not all thorns that fly in August are August Thorns! A warning to new moth trappers to not rely too much on a name!

September Thorn

I had a couple of welcome new species as well. The first was this wonderfully furry Pale Eggar. The smallest member of the Lasiocampidae family, it likes heathland and woodland edges.

Pale Eggar

The second new moth was Rosy Rustic, with two in the trap. The main food plant for this moth is dock (Rumex spp.) and with plenty of this in and around my garden it is surprising it has taken me this long to get one.

Rosy Rustic

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


Yesterday was the first anniversary of my arrival in Church Stretton and as the furniture did not arrive till the day after, the 14th was the first time I could put the trap on.
So last night (13th) was the end of my first year here and a "must" for the trap.

Lots of moths, but too many of the common ones; for example 30 Large Yellow Underwing and 18 Lesser Broad Border's. Nothing new, so I end the year with just over 400 species found locally.

Of interest because of its shape, was a Chinese Character (not new),

Chinese Character
but the most impressive was a moth which I did not recognise. So, below is a picture of the "standard" form of Dark Arches and after that, the variation of the same moth which I have never seen before. I am sure you would agree that there is a huge difference. A photo of the 2 side by side illustrates it even more.

Dark Arches


                                                                                               Dark Arches (different)

                                                              Dark Arches (comparison)

Purple Rain

The highlight from this morning was a member of the lepidoptera family, but it was not a moth. In fact I was so pleased that I dragged a passing dog walker into the garden to see it (I did know the dog walker in question!). The insect was this Purple Hairstreak, resting on the wall and by far the best views I have ever had of this species.

Purple Haristreak

This was not the only purple insect either, running it a close second was this beautiful Purple Thorn. A garden first and something that could easily be overlooked as a dead leaf! The diagnostic diffuse dark spot on the upperwing can just be seen here.

Purple Thorn

There was another thorn species in the trap, and one which is a little but more colourful. The Canary-shouldered Thorn is a quite a common moth, and a sure sign that autumn is on the way. The fluffy yellow thorax, shown well in this photograph, is what gives this moth its name.

Canary-shouldered Thorn

As an alternative to purple as the theme for the blog, I could have chosen something related to birds. In addition to our canary there were a couple more bird related moths. With the black and white patterning, it is no surprise that this is called The Magpie. A species that I get a few of each year, it is a much declined moth that used to be thought of as a pest due to the caterpillars fondness for berry bushes.

The Magpie
The other bird-related moth was one with a mythical edge. The Small Phoenix, photographed here in typical posture raising the tip of its abdomen.

Small Phoenix

The final moth for this blog was one that came to the living room window, rather than the trap. It was quickly potted and photographed, though attempts to get a picture in a more natural setting were a failure. This is a Blood-vein, a reasonably common and widespread moth, but also a very attractive one.


Saturday, 10 August 2013

Too many moths, too little time

I see that I have not done a post since 17th July, although in fairness, Mike has done the posts from our two successful Garden outings, but this does not excuse me.

Since my last post, the above title has been very true, and the trap has been full, with lots of interesting moths. In addition, Mike and I spent an evening at Whixall Mosses with Dave Grundy (the person who started the Garden Moth Scheme (q.v)) and with 6 traps running there were more than 190 species recorded, including several site specialities.

At home, I have recorded lots of species new to me here. A lot of these have been micro moths which need dissecting to distinguish them from other similar species - and some of these have not been recorded in Shropshire since the 1930s - but that does not mean they have not been around.

So, here are a few pictures, some of them of moths which are less than 5mm long, some which are new and a very interesting one, which was a Grayling butterfly - yes, in the moth trap

Phyllonorycter harrisella


Pebble hook-tip

Caryocolum blandella

Phyllonorycter geniculella

And a few caterpillars, including the fully grown Puss moth larva and some others found around the area.

Poplar Grey

Puss Moth

Elephant Hawk-moth

Friday, 2 August 2013

In the pot

With lots of moths around it has been difficult to keep up to date with the blog recently. Most of my time has been spent trying to identify tricky micros! This was particularly the case following Thursday night, which was my best catch of the year with 119 moths of 49 species.

On Stretton Moths we try our best to post nice natural-looking pictures of moths. Sometimes that does not happen, moths will not always settle easily and I resort to taking pictures 'in the pot'. Thursdays trap was one of those times, so apologies in advance, but the pictures show species that have not appeared here before.

Let us start with a moth out of the pot. A very smart looking Orange Swift. This is a species that Graham has recorded, but it is my first record for Batch Valley.

Orange Swift

Another species that Graham has recorded in his garden is the Cloaked Carpet. A very attractive species that I have been hoping to find and one was nestling in the eggboxes on Friday morning. This one was photographed in the lid of a pot.

Cloaked Carpet

I also had three of these geometrid moths, which took me a while to identify. The answer lying in their very worn plumage, but the basic pattern of cross lines. This is one of them, a Grass Emerald. Whilst these are an attractive green when they first emerge, they quickly become worn and lose their colour. The hindwing on this moth has retained some of the green colour.

Grass Emerald

There were a large number of micro moths, and it took me several days to identify these (with a couple too worn to be determined). One of the more attractive was the Batia unitella, another moth recorded previously by Graham. To give an indication of size, it is in the same size lid at the Cloaked Emerald above.

Batia unitella

The final one is a moth out of the pot again. Another new species for me, and I scratched my head for a few minutes until I saw a flash of the hindwing. This helped me to identify it as a Least Yellow Underwing.

Least Yellow Underwing