Thursday, 30 August 2012

Mystery solved?

On my very first trap on 4 August, two of the first moths I pulled out of the trap were these ones.

The Annulet (and a mystery pug)

Being just two of the many moths that I could not identify, I took a quick photograph and thought no more about it. Over the next couple of days I worked through most of my photographs, but these two (and a couple of Uncertain-type moths) were troubling me.

I posted these as identification queries forums and the first replies I got suggested the larger moth was The Annulet and the smaller moth a Wormwood Pug, and I was happy with this. This was until I looked into the distributions and found out that Annulet would be quite unusual in Shropshire. So I asked another expert who thought is was not an Annulet, but actually an Engrailed. I also looked into the pug a bit more and was not happy that it could be safely identified and am still set in that view. Totally confused I posted the picture on another forum, and the unanimous opinion was Annulet for the large moth (and uncertainty for the smaller one).

So is the mystery solved? Well, yes and no. Despite all the positive identifications, the one doubting voice means there should be some uncertainty. However, I have looked and looked I am now convinced that this is The Annulet. I am very grateful indeed for those who have looked at my pictures and have given their opinions. I am just hoping that in time I will catch a more obvious example.

Monday, 27 August 2012

A hawk and two canaries

I good nights weather saw the moth trap going out on Saturday night. I had a feeling it was going to be an interesting, if not a bumper, catch when I checked the trap before going to bed and saw a Feathered Gothic nestling in the egg boxes. I decided to leave it until the morning rather than disturb the trap, and it was one of last moths I took out.

Feathered Gothic

The first moth I saw on Sunday morning was a beautiful thorn clinging to the outside of the trap. The moth was quickly potted and then easily identified as a Canary-shouldered Thorn, the third thorn in four trapping sessions following Early and September Thorns this month.

Canary-shouldered Thorn

As soon as I looked in the trap a broad grin stretched across my face as the familiar profile of this beast was obvious.

Poplar Hawk-moth

This Poplar Hawk-moth is one of the species I was looking forward to catching, and I was not disappointed with this exquisite moth.

Poplar Hawk-moth

There were plenty of other good moths in the trap. This included new macro species Common Carpet, Common Marbled Carpet and a Small Wainscot. I also made an effort with more of the micros, and this added Blastobasis adustella, Agriphila geniculea and Agriphila tristella. One the the most interesting things about trapping regularly is seeing how the spectrum changes over time, with 16 Flounced Rustic becoming the commonest moth this week and only one Scarce Footman caught, as opposed to 2 of the former and 41 of the latter two weeks ago.

Small Wainscot

Saturday, 25 August 2012

25 August

This Single-dotted Wave is roosting in our porch this morning.

Single-dotted Wave
I think the moth trap will be going out tonight.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Stag night

Since I have become interested in moths I have got into the habit of turning the porch light on for half an hour before I go to bed, to see if anything is attracted. I did this on Monday night, and it soon turned into a stag night, with this striking Antler Moth attracted to my simple moth lure.

Antler Moth

Though a slightly bedgralled specimen, it is a beautiful insect all the same and it did not pose too much of an identification challenge. The moth is so named bacause of the white antler-shaped markings on each forewing, but the whole appearance is rather splendid. Before too long the moth was vibrating its wings to prepare for its escape.

Antler Moth

Monday, 20 August 2012


I was working in the garden yesterday afternoon and saw this creature making it's way across the drive.

Buff-tip larva

I took a few photographs and managed to find some time today to have a go at identifying it. Turned out to be quite a straightforward identification as a Buff-tip moth larva. This will overwinter in an earth chamber before the adult is flying in May, and will become a wonderful looking moth. and I started trapping a bit too late this year to catch one of these, but I will be looking out for these next year.

Buff-tip larva

Sunday, 19 August 2012

18 August

A moth trapping session on Saturday night revealed another six new species for the garden, out of 50 moths identified. The first was this beauty found roosting on a grass stem by the trap.

September Thorn

Next was this noctuid, which took a little while to identify, but is actually a quite straightforward Six-striped Rustic. A subtle moth but quite distinctive.

Six-striped Rustic

I also had two Lesser Yellow Underwings, which were my first records. This tortix also caught my eye. It seems a tough ID between Pandemis cerasana and P. heparana, but I think this is the latter.

Pandemis heparana

This very distinctive moth was roosting on the inside of the trap. It had me scratching my head for a while. Was it a very worn Swallow-tailed Moth? It didn't look right, but I could not see any other alternative with those tail projections. A bit more research and I found that it is of course a worn Light Emerald, which has lost its light green colour.

Light Emerald

The other new moth was a Square-spot Rustic, which I found in the grass after I had put the trapping kit away. A reminder to check surrounding vegetation thoroughly.

It was noticable that numbers of footman were down, after the 58 in last weeks trap. I did get this nice comparison of Scarce and Common Footman though.

Common (above) & Scarce Footman

According to the Butterflies and Moths of Shropshire, Scarce Footman is a bit of a rarity in the county. This cannot be true though after the 41 last weekend and another seven today. A bit more investigation is needed to see if this is true, as the book is now quite out of date.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


I ran my second trapping session at the weekend and got a bumper haul of 150+ moths, about 130 of which I managed to identify, including some really beautiful insects. Lots of new moths, with this Large Emerald a highlight roosting in a conifer by the trap. My list (in no particular order) was:

Large Emerald
New moths for the garden included Scarce Footman, Purple Bar, a Copper Underwing type (probably a normal copper underwing), Yellow-tail and Garden Carpet. I also had this attractive micro moth Carcina quercana, which was easy to identify as it adorns the front cover of the Micro Moth book.

Carcina quercana
Continuing the them of new species, there were five White-line Darts, four Dun-bar and two Dark Arches (including this one, note the pale W). 5

Dark Arches and a Scarce Footman
There were also two Dotted Clay, a Small Phoenix, Small Fan-footed Wave, and this Phycita roborella.

Phycita roborella
The other new species were Marbled BeautyFlounced RusticCommon Wave and Red-barred Tortrix. A successful and enjoyable session, and I only needed help to identify ten of them!

Monday, 6 August 2012

First catch

There was great excitement in Batch Valley last week as my new moth trap was delivered. I have always been interested in moth-trapping but have never had the confidence to take the plunge. However, spurred on by the moths I have seen in Batch Valley over the last few weeks I decided to give it a go. I bought the Eco20 Heath Trap from Paul Batty, which uses an actinic bulb rather than the more powerful mercury vapour. My decision was based on cost, wanting to be sensitive to my neighbours by not having an MV bulb, having a trap I can use off a car battery and having a trap which is going to not get a dauntingly huge catch.

After calling in at my local wildlife book shop to improve my library of moth ID books, a dry forecast saw the trap going out on Saturday night. It was with some excitement when I got up on Sunday morning to see what I had found. I was not disappointed with my haul of 33 moths. Not a huge number, but for an inexperienced moth-er like me this is ideal as it still took me two hours to identify them all (and I still needed some help with a couple of them)!

Early thorn
My list of moths:
Common Footman 9
Drinker 2
Willow Beauty 1
Uncertain 2
Uncertain/Rustic 1
Magpie 1
Scalloped Oak 4
Small-dotted Wave 1
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 1
Early Thorn 1
Burnished Brass 1
Double Square Spot/Triple-spotted Clay 1
July Highflyer 2
Red Twin-spot Carpet 1
unidentifed 1
Catoptria pinella 1
Agriphila tristella/selasella 1

Burnished Brass

An enjoyable and challenging session. I caught a couple of my target moths - Early Thorn and Burnished Brass, which are beautiful insects. As the list shows above, identifying moths is difficult for the inexperienced. This is particularly the case when there are worn individuals, and some when down as an either/or. There is also much variation within species, with the two July Highflyers being quite different colours.

July Highflyer

Here's hoping for a dry night next weekend.