Welcome to ‘What’s in the box? 2018’, a regular feature that looks at what has been recorded over the previous recording period. From April to September inclusive, I will report on the moths I’ve recorded during the month concluding with my own ‘stats report’; a totally unscientific summary of aspects of interest.
I have two moth traps – one is a homemade (albeit not by me!) Skinner-style trap, the other is a Robinson trap. Both have a bright light to attract the moths and contain a pile of egg boxes for them to huddle into and feel safe.
I set them up as and when the weather permits and the usual plan is to position one of them in the garden at Bubble HQ using the mains electric. I then run around like a mad woman with a net and pots catching everything flying to the light (except bats which can be a bit of a problem sometimes!). The neighbours do think I’m a little odd! When bedtime calls, the trap is then left running all night and everything that has fallen into the box is recovered early morning. And when the box is opened….I never know what I’m going to get.
I’ll take the trap further afield using a generator. As wildlife partner of the Forestry Commission and North York Moors National Park I have permission to use the trap in certain local areas and always release the moths back to where they were found. No moths are ever harmed. As I use a generator which is noisy, I stay with the trap for a few hours. Moths are potted and identified on site. I bring the box back home at the end of the session.
All records will be from the default site in the garden at Bubble HQ here in Dalby Forest unless otherwise stated.
Note that this post is rather late. Following website technical problems, I’ve been unable to post for a while but, I’m back up and running!!
April 2018 was such a washout that I nearly didn’t write this post. The ‘Beast from the East’ snowy weather front in March gave way to waterlogging on a grand scale. The air remained cold and I didn’t manage to get out in the field once. But, records are records so here is the rather lacking-in-moths moth report for April 2018.
The beginnings of a new season
On a night ranging from 4 to 7 degrees, the first trapping session wasn’t too shabby all things considered. With 86 moths of 14 species, I was lulled into a false sense of excitement that my mothing season, after the moth-desert of winter, had truly started.
Clouded Drab and Hebrew Character led the way with 25 and 16 respectively. This always seems to be the case so no great surprises there.
A lone Satellite hunkered down amongst the egg boxes. Munching on broadleaved shrubs such as hazel and hawthorn, which are both present in the garden, the larvae are omnivorous so also tuck into the larvae of other moth species. Satellites are easy to recognise as the kidney marks on the forewings are flanked by two dots or ‘satellites’. Whilst the kidney marks and the satellite dots can vary in colour, this combination is unique to the Satellite. It’s almost impossible to mistake this moth – when the name and markings match up then it makes identification so much easier!
Whilst packing up after this session, I was taking my boots off to go in for a well-deserved cuppa when I noticed this little hitch-hiker. How long it had been on my boot I have no idea.
The hitch-hiker is an Early Tooth-striped. As it often rests by day on tree trunks and fence posts, I wondered whether it mistook my foot for something suitable to rest on. Not the easiest of moths to identify as the colour and markings can vary somewhat but as it’s an early flyer – through April and May – many similar moths fly later in the year so can be discounted.
A small rarity
Semioscopis Avellanella, a long name for such a tiny moth. The first part means diviner which is defined as a person who uses special powers to predict future events. The latter means hazel. Hazel diviner? Does that mean it that it finds hazel trees using some sort of special powers?! I’d like to think so.
Whatever its name means, this unassuming micro moth turned out to be a bit of a rarity around Bubble HQ and indeed throughout the vice county – VC62. It is listed in the British checklist as moth number 666; perhaps it does have special powers after all!
A common moth but one I think deserves mentioning, is the Shoulder Stripe. Four entered the box in April. It’s strongly marked with a variety of shades of brown from yellow-brown, grey-brown and ochre to a deep conker brown. I think the shoulder stripe is stunning because it showcases how the shades and hues of just one colour can produce such complexity in pattern.
What’s in the box? April 2018 stats (totally unscientific!)
Number of sessions – 4
Average length of sessions – All Night (8pm until collection at 4am)
Conditions – Wet
Total number of moths – 277
Most common moth – Clouded Drab (69)
Second common moth – Hebrew Character (68) down from last year’s number one spot and down in numbers (182 last year)
Best night – 18th April with 128 moths of 17 species
Moth of the month – Yellow Horned (just for those antennae!)