Wednesday, 30 May 2012

And still they come

The last few days have really made up for the dismal April, although I suspect that some of the early spring moths have slipped through the net. Still, we look forward as all good folk should and this post shows why - a Sunday and Monday trap and both days providing lots of activity and new moths for the year. And some great moths to see too!

Sunday 27th - 33 moths of 16 species. 15W BLB and 117W CFL combo trap
The majority of space in the trap was taken up by the boisterous Scalloped Hazel and tonight brought 9 of them to the trap, by far the most I've seen! New for the year came in the form of 2 x Pale Tussock, a cracking little Mottled Pug, a tiny Firethorn Leaf Miner, Iron Prominent and a Rustic Shoulder-knot. The Iron Prom was a bit battered and had obviously been around for a while so I'm surprised that I haven't seen one earlier. The rest were really fresh moths, especially the Scalloped Hazel, indicating the recent warm weather had eventually brought about the miraculous transformation that brings them to the trap.
Pale Tussock Look at those antenae
Mottled Pug Firethorn Leaf Minor
A great night and some old friends from last year providing lots of entertainment. I've also come across (what I think is) an interesting idea for photographing moths. As anyone who has ever tried, it is bloody difficult to get 'em to stop still! Putting them in the fridge seems to work to some degree, particularly works well with Noctuids and the like, not quite so good with Geometrids and almost no good with the micros. After spending hours trying to photographing them last year and watching the after effects of fridging them up for the day I noticed that almost all the species immediately stuck our their tongue (is that the right choice of word?) and started searching for moisture, presumably to re-hydrate themselves after being so cold. It immediately struck me that if there were something sweet and tempting for them to drink then they may stay longer. And thus began my experiment with sugar, honey and water dripped onto the wall where I take my photos to see which species respond more than others. As you can see for micros it works a treat, the Leaf Miner above stayed for plenty of time. Pugs seem to love it too, which is great as I haven't many good pug shots. The only ones that haven't appeared to appreciate my culinary skills are the Brimstone and Twenty-plume Moth. The tests continue...

Monday 28th - 43 moths of 21 species . 15W Actinic with 42W CFL combo
With equally good conditions, I thought it would be a good test to see how the moths respond differently to the Actinic. As you can see the results speak for themselves - almost 30% more moths than yesterday. Tonight 7 new for the year including this Poplar Hawk-moth (always great to get a hawk in the trap!!), Small Phoenix, the first of plenty of Heart & Darts, the first orange-panelled Common Marbled Carpet appeared (the others I've caught so far have been the dark grey variety) and a few others. Nothing new for my lifelist again, but as you can see some fascinatingly varied moths!
Poplar Hawk-moth Small Phoenix White-spotted Pug
Incurvaria masculella Foxglove Pug Buff Ermine
Twenty-plume Moth
With all these newbies the moth yearlist has now hit the 81 mark. The trap is out again as we speak and buzzing with this heavy cloud, hopefully it doesn't rain too hard...


  1. Beautiful moth photos. I have dreadful problems trying to take photos for the same reasons as yourself so I'm very interested to read of your experiment - its a great idea! As you say pugs and micros never keep still not even after a few hours in the fridge.

    1. Hi Mrs Robin,

      Thanks for the comments, the experiment seems to be going fairly well. I've just posted my latest pics from Weds night and again the success of the sugar-water trials shows (I hope!)

      Thanks for reading!

      Steve T