Sunday, 30 March 2014

Earning my stripes

We are back to warmer nights and back to more moths. There were 51 in the trap last night, the highest count of the year, with 13 species represented. Pick of the bunch were two Shoulder-stripe, a good looking moth and a welcome addition to the garden list. This is quite a common and widespread species, and it was nice to finally record this here in Batch Valley.


Otherwise, there were some welcome reappearances - moths coming to the trap for the first time this year. Best of these was only the second Engrailed for the garden. I nearly missed it as it was not in the trap, but settled nearby on the wall of the house, showing that it pays to search carefully around the trap each morning!

The Engrailed

In the trap itself was an Early Thorn, a regularly occurring species but also a real favourite. This is one species that is always popular when we carry out our moth surveys. This species always rests with its wings closed, the underside of the wing also looking brighter than the upperside.

Early Thorn

One of the major headaches that moth recorders get is identifying pugs. There are quite a number of pug species, which look very similar and wear very quickly, meaning that many a disparaging word is said against them. When they are freshly emerged, however, they are very attractive little moths. This Brindled Pug was my first pug species this year.

Brindled Pug

I will finish off with a Red Chestnut, a speciality for this garden and one of my favourite of the spring moths. I caught this very bright specimen which I thought was deserving of having its photograph taken.

Red Chestnut

Other moths were very much the usual suspects, with 13 Mottled Greys and 15 Hebrew Characters the most common. I also recorded 6 March Moths, meaning I have now recorded more than ten individuals this year of this moth, which had not appeared in the garden before this year.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Every Cloud...

There was certainly a silver lining last night, with the best catch of the year - there were 47 moths of 13 species. Like Graham the other night, there was a Clouded Drab in the trap. A much more attractive moth than the name suggests. This is apparently very variable in appearance, though all those I have caught have been similar looking individuals.

Clouded Drab

Most of the moths were species I have already recorded this year, with Mottled Grey the commonest with 16 individuals. There was one new appearance though, this Diurnea fagella. This is a male, as the female have quite short and stunted wings.

Diurnea fagella


Sunday's weather was glorious with the temperature above 15°C, and what did that imply? Well simply that there ought to be a few more moths about that night. So the trap was switched on and I could not resist a few visits during the late evening to see if there were any moths. It was in fact a bit like being at Heathrow - probably even more busy than there, but off the top of my head I don't know how many plans arrive there overnight.

So, let's start with a few facts and figures. There were 318 moths in the trap this morning (including those sitting on the walls, etc...). 188 of these were Small Quaker moths, and in total there were 22 species.
Six other species were in double figures, these being Common Quaker 33, Hebrew Character 24, Oak Beauty 15, March Moth 15 and Chestnut 11.

When I look back to my records for this time last year, I see that I only ran the trap 4 times in March and only caught 26 moths in total and it was not until mid April that I caught large numbers of this species and then only just over 100.

No new moths for the site, but a fresh Acleris literana was a pleasant surprise.

Acleris literana

During the day, I spotted a hairy caterpillar sunning itself on a Periwinkle leaf and took the following photo. It is clearly one of the "Tiger" moths larvae, but so far I have not been able to identify it.

Larva to I.D.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

March(ing) on

The trap has been on only 4 times in March, based generally on the supposed overnight temperature.

The month is progressing and the numbers of moths gradually increasing, but no new species for the site so far.

On Thursday 6th there were only 8 moths, of 7 species, but on Saturday 8th this increased to 23 moths of 8 species, one of them being an over-wintering Ypsolopha ustella. However, the disappointment of this catch spurred me on to try again on Sunday night (9th) and the catch was much improved.
There were 47 moths of 10 species, including a fairly early Shoulder Stripe - only my second one here - and all the usual suspects of the early part of the year, including a Clouded Drab, not a nice name for a quite variable moth - one that has not been featured here before, well, that I discover by chance is not true - but it does not appear on the label list.

So, on Friday night, with the promise of 8° overnight (which I think was actually only 6) the trap went on and there were 48 moths (8 species) this morning. 35 of these were Small Quaker and there was a Pale Pinion, Twin-spot Quaker and an Early Grey. Unlike Mike, I rarely get Mottled Grey here, due mainly to habitat difference.

So, no photos from me today, as everything in the trap has already featured here, but you can find a picture of a Clouded Drab by clicking on Pale Pinion on the list and seeing it on the same page!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Fresh arrivals

The warmest day of the year bought Peacock, Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell onto the wing in Batch Valley. This was followed by a cloudy warm night, the perfect time to put out the mothtrap. I was not to be disappointed, with 25 moths of 12 species, easily the best catch of the year.

The commonest moth was the Mottled Grey, a species I caught in quite large numbers in spring last year.

Mottled Grey

Half of the species were making their first appearance this year, though most were expected. This included some wonderfully fresh Hebrew Characters, a real crowd-pleaser.

Hebrew Character

I also recorded single Common Plume, Small Quaker and Clouded Drab, the first records of this year. The other new species for the year was Early Grey, with three of these beautiful moths.

Early Grey

There were still some 'hangers on', species I have been recording for the last couple of weeks. There were two Red Chestnuts, a moth I record here in good numbers, along with single examples of The Satellite, Chestnut, March Moth and Dotted Border. The last of these is a species I record occasionally in the late winter, but I had not until now secured a reasonable photograph of.

Dotted Border