Sunday, 14 April 2013

First Moth Records 2013

It has been a very cold spring so far, and I have been lazy in getting the moth trap out.  I start every year with the intention to trap at least once a month, every month, but the months race past in a flurry of adverse weather, with a few nights where I could trap but wouldn't be there or have time to look at the catch.
With the change in the weather, I was looking for a mild and dry night to get the trap out. It's a Skinner trap with a 125W MV lamp to run off mains electricity (with a rain guard, although that's only really good if it's not raining hard!). Friday night was forecast as not too cold and dry until the morning, so out went the trap in the little back garden of the cottage, just to see what's about.

I had mostly finished emptying the trap by the time the rain arrived, earlier than expected. There wasn't much in there; one March Moth Alsophila aescularia, two Oak Beauty Biston strataria (ooh, big, furry, pretty, etc), ten Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica (all looking quite new), and a handful of noctuids which will require some research.  The trouble with not trapping for a while is that I get woefully out of practice in identifying the moths, and emptying the trap/recording the catch takes far longer than I think it should.  And then, if I get some lovely furry moths, I start admiring them from all angles and before I know it, it's time for breakfast.

Oak Beauty Biston strataria
Moth identification is not really for those who have no patience for details, as the details are important. The patterns are subtle and some moths are quite variable in their colouring. Although mostly they aren't brightly coloured or iridescent, the scales on their wings reflect the light and this can make the colours change.
I eventually decided that my handful were a Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi, a Red Chestnut Cerastis rubricosa and three Clouded Drab Orthosia incerta. I shall post my results over on the Carmarthenshire Moth and Butterfly blog and may stand corrected once other group members have seen the pics.

See what I mean about the Oak Beauty?  There was a darker one too, but I preferred the markings on this one.  Isn't he lovely?

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