Thursday, 18 June 2015

Lobster pots

There was a fabulous selection of moths last night, with the largest catch of the year. The total of 180 moths included seven new species for the garden, all of them fantastic looking insects. The commonest moth was Brown Silver-line Petrophora chlorosata, with 60 individuals in the trap. This is potentially the highest number of a single species I have recorded in a trapping session.

As soon as I got outside I saw a large moth on the outside wall, and immediately knew it was a Lobster Moth Stauropus fagi. This impressive looking moth actually gets its name from the appearance of the caterpillar, which is remarkably crustacean like.

Lobster Moth Stauropus fagi

Following on a similar marine theme, the next moth I noticed outside the trap was The Shark Cucullia umbratica. This is a tricky species to identify from the similar Chamomile Shark Cucillia chamomillae, with the fine detail of the fringe of the hindwing needing to be studied to be sure.

The Shark Cucillia chamomillae

Scorched Wing Plagodis dolabraria was another new species, with two individuals caught. This is a reasonably common moth, which utilises several common deciduous trees as a foodplant. A moth that can easily be mistaken at a glance for some dead vegetation, this is a great example of camouflage. See also the beautiful purple colouration on the wings.

Scorched Wing Plagodis dolabraria

The next species caused me a slight problem in identification. I have previously caught many Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria in the garden, but I could immediately see that this was different. A check of the crosslines showed that these did not converge, and it was a bright specimen compared to previous Willow Beautys I have caught. A quick check led me to Mottled Beauty Alcis repandata, which is quite a common, though variable, species.

Mottled Beauty Alcis repandata

I also caught two moths that I have seen many times before on trapping sessions in the Strettons. In fact, it has felt that my garden was the only one that these moths were not being recorded in. These were Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius, a common species that uses birch (Betula), a tree which is not exactly in short supply locally. The other was Peach Blossom Thyatira batis, which has an even more common larval foodplant - bramble (Rumex).

Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius

Peach Blossom Thyatira batis

As I was packing away the trap and associated kit, something caught my eye in the long grass some way from the trap. I was delighted to see that this was a Green Silver-lines Pseudoips prasinana, another birch feeder and a welcome final addition for the morning. One that I nearly missed!

Green Silver-lines Pseudoips prasinana

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