Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Two Beauties

Put the trap on last night for the first time in February - and only the second time in 2014.  Well, it was the most promising night with a reasonable temperature forecast.

But there were only 4 moths on the trap this morning, 2 x Pale Brindled Beauty and 2 x Oak Beauty.

And on the porch door early this evening an Agonopterix heracliana, a common micro-moth which has featured here before, but the photo was not very good, so here is a better one.

Agonopterix heracliana

In total I have only seen 9 moths this year and the forecast for the next few nights is low temperatures.

Last year, in January and February I saw 92 moths before the end of February, having run the trap on 6 occasions.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

A few more

There were a few more moths in the trap last night. Four of these were macro moths, with another Chestnut, along with the first Dotted Border and Pale Brindled Beautys of the year. There were also four micro moths, - Tortricodes alternella, the commonest micro here at this time of year.

Pale Brindled Beautys can be quite variable moths, as these two individuals show.

Pale Brindled Beauty

Pale Brindled Beauty

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Ruby, ruby, ruby, ruby

Relentless storms, horizontal rain, gale-force winds and ice cold nights. It is enough to make you want to stay inside and curl up in front of the fire. Plenty of creatures do not have that choice of course, braving out the winter, and it may surprise you to learn that this includes caterpillars no bigger than your little finger.

Ruby Tiger larva

This Ruby Tiger larva was crawling up my wall today, seemingly brought out by the sunshine. It is one of a small number of moths which overwinter in their larval stage. How do they do it without turning to ice? It seems that moths use strategies to survive. One is having their own form of antifreeze, which enable them to survive freezing temperatures, with the larva rolling into tight furry balls when temperatures are below freezing. Ruby Tiger larva are also polyphagous, meaning they literally eat many things, so when they feed they have a wider choice of herbaceous plants.

Ruby Tiger larva

I left the caterpillar to slowly continue on its way, pleased with another addition to the garden moth list.

Monday, 3 February 2014

That old Chestnut

A happy new year from Batch Valley also. After a hiatus of a couple of months the moth trap was out again. The endless bad weather brightened a little, with a stiller night and less rain.

Proof that moths were surviving the winter was provided as four made their way to the trap. Three of those were Spring Ushers, the same moth found by Graham a few days ago.

Spring Usher - a paler example

The other was a Chestnut, a case of the old familiar. This is one of several moths that can be found right throughout the winter, and is always a contender if the trap is out between autumn and spring.

These moths made a cameo performance at today's Strettons Community Area Wildlife Group AGM. We have several new people signed up for this years Moths in YOUR Garden surveys, so we have new places to visit once the moths start to play.