Friday, 17 July 2015

17th July - And There They Saw a Rock

The week has been extremely muggy and overcast, the kind of conditions that seem to exhaust you even though you are not doing anything.  It was then with a sigh of relief that the forecast was for thunderstorms last night that would clear out the still humid weather, and bring in more fresher weather.  \Thunderstorms and still conditions are also very good for moths in the summer, and as a result I decided to put the trap out.

The storms went through around 9.00pm last night, and there was some lightning and showers of heavy rain.  There was still some dampness in the air first thing in the morning as I stepped out to look into the trap. My hopes were proved to have come true, there was a lot of moths present, not least nine Elephant Hawk Moths my highest count for the garden.  Here are eight of them, the ninth was found later under one of the egg boxes after I had released all these.

Included in the catch were several first for the year, and two or maybe three new moths for the garden, there was also one moth that has proved difficult to identify, lets start with this one.

While resembling some of the Dark Arches that were present it was smaller and with more rounded wings.  It seems to have faded quite a bit, and the markings are not distinct, but the best I can think of is that this is a Rustic that has faded a little.

This is a Dark Arches, and you can see the different shapes of the moth from above the wings are sharper pointed, and from the side there is a definite hump that is not present in the Rustic.

A first for the year was this Grey or Dark Dagger, both have lovely dark dagger like markings on the wings, and it is impossible to tell apart with out examining the genitalia, which I did not bother to do.  Apparently the larvae or caterpillars are distinctly different.

As well as the Elephant Hawk Moths, there was a single Pine Hawk-Moth, the first for the year.

A medium sized Hawk-Moth, similar in size to the Elephants it is a fairly nondescript greyish member of the Hawk-Moths, this species is restricted in Britain to the south and east, 
It inhabits coniferous woodland, where it flies in a single generation during May and June, so this individual is quite late in the season

The larva, which is rather more colourful than the moth, feeds on the needles of Scots Pine, a small clump of which can be found at the top of Lymington Rise

Yet another first for the year, a Swallow-tailed moth.  A spectacular species and one of our largest Geometrids, this is however reasonably common in Britain but being strictly nocturnal and having quite a short emergence period in July, it is not often encountered by the non-moth enthusiast.

The larvae feed on a number of trees and shrubs, but prefer ivy of which there is quite a bit in the garden.

This individual seems to have faded a little, and of course settled on a cream wall!

Now for the firsts, the dubious one to start with, this is definitely a Footman, but is it a common or Buff Footman?  The common has the dark grey markings to the top of the head.  While the Buff Footman has a paler folded wings and creamy yellow on the head, and it is this that makes me think this is a Buff Footman.

With the next two I had no problem identifying them.  First was yet another green moth.  Last year I caught Small Emeralds, but today I had a much bigger green moth, this time a Large Emerald.  As you can imagine from the name this is the largest of the 'emeralds', with a wingspan of up to 3 centimetres, and one which is common throughout most of Britain. 

It inhabits woods, heaths and moors, and flies at night in June and July, when it is easily attracted by light.  It can be further distinguished by the butterfly-like resting position with the wings spread and at an angle as if ready to take off.

Last but not least was the night's star of the show for me, and I nearly missed it.  As I started to put away the egg boxes I could see that one was wet from the rain so I decided to leave it out to dry.  When I picked it up to put in a sunny place to dry I noticed a moth superbly camouflaged on the grey box.  I was able to get it off to get a better view

This is the Lobster Moth, and yes it bares no resemblance whatsoever to a Lobster.  It gets it's name from the remarkable crustacean-like appearance of the caterpillar. It is not a common moth, and I am very pleased to have seen one at last.  It can be found in the southern part of Britain, occupying woodland habitats where the caterpillars feed on beech and oak.

When at rest the head is tucked down and the antennae curled around with the front legs splayed out in front.  However when alert the antennae perk up like big ears and you can see the lovely big eyes and furry head, which give it an adorable look

Then the antennae droop and its just "so fluffy!"

The Blackbirds and Sparrows continue to entertain in the garden, and once again this morning the Red Kite drifted over, scouring the gardens below for the odd terrier or two(!).

1 comment:

  1. Stunning photos of your moths, have to say I do like the look of the Lobster Moth would love to see one...
    Amanda xx


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