MOTHS

Moth Trapping 

Thanks to our award from the National Lottery Community Fund, we have been able to buy a moth trap so that we can discover which moths are visiting the Community Woodland and other areas of the village.

The group is very grateful to Stephen Locke for researching the most suitable moth trap for our needs and for obtaining a Skinner trap which is lightweight and portable and comes with a rechargeable lithium battery so that we can use it in places such as the woodland without a source of power. We set it up with a white backing sheet behind it as moths will come to rest on the sheet as well as fly into the trap and can be inspected if the trap is attended or if they are still resting there in the morning.

Skinner moth trap in situ with battery beneath it and backing sheet behind

We are planning to trap at the Community Woodland on a regular basis and at different times in order to ascertain the full range of species throughout the year.

The cumulative list of moths recorded at the Community Woodland since beginning trapping in mid-July 2019 is:

Barred Sallow, Brimstone, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Canary-shouldered Thorn, Centre-barred Sallow, Cloaked Minor (f. bicoloria), Clouded Border, Common Carpet, Common Footman, Common Rustic, Common Wainscot, Coronet, Drinker, Dusky Sallow, Dusky Thorn, Early Thorn, Elephant Hawkmoth, Flame, Garden Carpet, Grey Chi, Heart and Dart, Ingrailed Clay (prob.), Jersey Tiger, Lappet, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Broad-bodied Yellow Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Lunar Underwing, Magpie, Mocha, Oak/Northern Eggar (female), Oak Hooktip, Orange Swift (male), Purple Bar, Riband Wave, Rosy Footman, Ruby Tiger, Sallow, Satin Wave, Scorched Carpet, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Shaded Broad-bar, Sharp-angled Peacock, Small Fan-footed Wave, Square-spot Rustic, Swallow-tailed Moth, Willow Beauty (47 spp.)


Report of moth trapping at the Community Woodland, 27 September 2019 (National Moth Night)      Text and photos by Stephen Locke

This was a quiet but worthwhile trapping and our contribution to National Moth Night at a time of inauspicious weather. We were grateful to the Met Office for the accuracy of their forecast which allowed us to choose the one reasonable evening of the three designated as Moth Nights. The wind died down and it was a clear night, chilly rather than cold (about 12 deg). Warmer and overcast would have probably encouraged more moths.

Nevertheless, among the small number attracted, we had several characteristic and distinctive autumn moths, including Sallow, Barred Sallow and, in the same family, Lunar Underwing, of which we had at least half-a-dozen specimens.

 

Sallow (left) and Barred Sallow  (right)

These join the Centre-barred Sallow which we had at the Community Woodland on 8 September (see below). All of them are moths of grassland, scrub, hedgerows and broad-leaved woodland and are autumn flyers, so they are just what you would expect.

Setaceous Hebrew Character, a very common and distinctive moth, was the most numerous moth of the night, although it was followed closely by the Lunar Underwing.

Setaceous Hebrew Character (left) and Lunar Underwing (right)

The full list was: Barred Sallow, Garden Carpet, Lunar Underwing, Sallow, Setaceous Hebrew Character and a Beauty (prob. Willow Beauty but too worn for confident id) (6 spp.), along with several very worn and unidentifiable LBJs.


Report of moth trapping at the Community Woodland, 8 Sept 2019 Text and photos by Stephen Locke

We ran the trap between 8.15 and 10.30 pm, with most activity occurring between 9 and 10 pm, but the results were rather sparse with just nine species recorded. The strong, three-quarter moon in a largely clear sky may have been a factor. Moonlight is often said to reduce catches, but since results often seem inconsistent it is not really possible to say.

The list that follows, however, does include two colourful and characteristic autumnal moths: Canary-shouldered Thorn and Centre-barred Sallow. The Canary-shouldered Thorn is aptly named, and all the common species of Thorn have now been recorded at the Community Woodland.

Canary-shouldered Thorn

The larvae of the Centre-barred Sallow, despite its name, feed on the unopened buds of mature ash; those of the Canary-shouldered Thorn on a variety of trees.

Centre-barred Sallow

The full list of moths seen is: Brimstone, Canary-shouldered Thorn, Centre-barred Sallow, Common Wainscot, Dusky Thorn, Grey Chi, Large Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character (the name of this very common moth refers to the wing markings resembling a Hebrew letter), Square-spot Rustic (probably the most abundant moth of the night and a real LBJ!) (9 spp)

Report of moth trapping in a Queen Square garden, 24 August 2019  Text and photos by Stephen Locke

This session in a central North Curry garden produced a very good variety of moths. We ran the trap between 8.30 and 11.30 pm, with most activity being between about 9.15 and 11.00 pm, but there was plenty going on when we packed up.

Gold Spot (left) and Jersey Tiger (right)

The list of moths seen is: August Thorn, Blood Vein, Brimstone (many), Chinese Character (looks like a conventional moth with its wings open - small, white with black markings - but an excellent mimic of a bird-dropping when at rest), Common Carpet, Common Footman (many), Common (or Dark) Marbled Carpet, Common Rustic, Common Wainscot (many), Dog’s Tooth, Flame Shoulder, Gold Spot, Green Carpet (fresh - they lose their green colour as they age), Jersey Tiger, Large Yellow Underwing (many), Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (many), Light Emerald, Orange Swift, Poplar Hawkmoth (a truly noble moth), Rustic, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Silver Y (an immigrant and a common day-flier), Small Blood-vein, Square-spot Rustic, Vestal (another immigrant and a nice moth to find), Willow Beauty, Yellow Shell (27 spp).

The note ‘many’ simply records those which were particularly numerous.

 Poplar Hawkmoth

 

Vestal

 It is extraordinary to think of the delicate Vestal migrating from Europe.


Report of moth trapping at the Community Woodland, 3 August 2019   Text and photos by Stephen Locke

The moth trap was set up in the south-east corner of the woodland just off the path near the bird feeders. We ran the trap from 9.30pm to midnight.

The list of moths seen is: Brimstone, Common Carpet, Common Footman, Common Wainscot, Drinker, Flame, Jersey Tiger, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Magpie, Oak/Northern Eggar (female), Orange Swift (male), Rosy Footman, Ruby Tiger (x7 in trap - more were seen but not trapped), Scorched Carpet, Shaded Broad-bar, Square-spot Rustic (18 spp.).

Magpie

The ‘big moth’ of the night was Oak/Northern Eggar. The naming of this moth is complex and confusing. Northern Eggars are not confined to the north of Britain and for our purposes can be considered forms of the same species. There are differences in the larval life cycle related to what stage the larva over-winters and in colouration of the adult moth (the guide gives the darker colouration as Northern Eggar). But, whatever the name, it is a fine moth.

Oak/Northern Eggar (female)

Numbers of Ruby Tiger continue high. The larva of the Orange Swift lives underground on the roots of vegetation.

Orange Swift (male)

Report of moth trapping at the Community Woodland, 25 July 2019  By Stephen Locke

The moth trap was set up just off the path at the front of the orchard at the far end of the woodland. We ran the trap from 9.30 to midnight.

The list of moths seen is: Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Cloaked Minor (f. bicoloria), Clouded Border, Common Carpet, Common Footman (very numerous), Common Rustic, Common Wainscot (numerous), Drinker (several), Dusky Sallow, Early Thorn, Elephant Hawkmoth, Heart & Dart, Ingrailed Clay (prob.), Jersey Tiger, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Broad-bodied Yellow Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Mocha, Purple Bar, Rosy Footman, Ruby Tiger (very numerous - we may have seen approaching 50 - there were a dozen in the trap), Scorched Carpet, Sharp-angled Peacock, Small Fan-footed Wave, Willow Beauty (25 spp.).

 Ruby Tiger

The moth of the night was Ruby Tiger for sheer numbers, but probably the most interesting moth was a Mocha, classed as nationally scarce B, the third highest category of rarity. The Mocha is very distinctive and so the identification unambiguous. Although a small moth, it has exquisite markings, and its occurrence at the woodland is exactly right both in general and in habitat.

Mocha


Report of moth trapping at the Community Woodland, 16 July 2019  Text and photos by Stephen Locke

The moth trap was set up in the south-east corner of the woodland just off the path near the bird feeders. We ran the trap for about two hours from 9.30 to 11.30 pm.

Many species of moth came to the light, but it was surprising that few species were caught in the trap during this time. Those caught were 6 Drinkers and a Common Footman, but the full list of moths seen in the two hours of trapping was: Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Common Footman, Common Wainscot, Coronet, Drinker (x>9), Elephant Hawkmoth, Lappet, Oak Hooktip, Riband Wave, Rosy Footman, Satin Wave, Scorched Carpet, Sharp-angled Peacock and Swallow-tailed Moth. 


Swallow-tailed moth

We also saw micro-moths but did not record them. The Lappet proved to be a female and laid eggs overnight.

                 

Lappet moth

Our results can possibly be explained by the fact that moths fly at different times of the night as well as different times of the year, and we might have trapped more moths had we trapped for longer. Some of the more common moths we might have expected are perhaps late flyers at this time of year. It is also possible that our torches distracted the moths from the trap as we saw a good variety while we were at the woodland.

The number of Drinkers was a surprising result. Their larvae feed on tall, coarse grasses and rushes and they prefer damp areas so the woodland is presumably a good area for them.

Drinker moth