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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Planning Ahead....

I`m afraid that this particular blog does not report any actual moth sightings (the nightly weather has precluded trapping), but it does discuss `mothy matters` that may be of interest or use.
My main method of moth trapping, as most of you know, is to set out actinic traps that are run off motorbike batteries overnight at sites or habitats of `moth potential`. I leave the traps out, and return very early the next day. This allows reasonable coverage of my local 10km squares (and sometimes further afield) and it augments the `home trap`. However, there are some localities where it would be unwise to leave the traps, where there is the risk of vandalism or theft.
These `risky` localities are often sited where good habitat is present or close by, and I have sometimes regretted not having trapped there. Very rarely in the past, I have remained with the trap for an hour or so, to see what turns up, finish, then return home and I have decided to consider this option at a couple of sites in the Llanelli area. This afternoon, I did a `recce` of two such areas (as well as some `urban botanising` and counting little egret nests at a local heronry!).
The first such locality is the North Dock dune spit, a Local Nature Reserve at the mouth of the Afon Lliedi, Llanelli and where there is some good saltmarsh vegetation as well as dunes. Knowing that sea campion grows at this site (a food plant of marbled coronet), I wanted to ascertain how much was present. Fortunately, it was in full flower and thus easy to make a `mental map` of its distribution.

Above: sea campion growing on slag breakwater deposits underlying the sandy slopes, North Dock LNR.

There are additionally large stands of tansy (potential for the plume moth Platyptilia pallidactyla), saltmarsh vegetation and urban wasteground not far away. In fact, nearby at Machynys, I had a white colon about ten years or so ago, when my then young son and I did an hour`s trapping.
Today, I rumaged amongst the vegetation looking for moths, both large and small, but apart from a single cinnabar moth saw none, though I did chance upon the click beetle Agrypnus murinus.

Above: the `click` Agrypnus murinus, which is not infrequently seen on dry coastal habitat.

Above: the Afon Lliedi, as it flows through urban Llanelli. As a teenager, I used to find privet hawk-moth caterpillars on the overgrown privets hereabouts, such as the one on the `middle right`. Note poplars (not yet in leaf) and distant tall elms (in leaf)....good moth trees. Not a planned trapping site, though.

The second locality where I intend to trap is at Burry Port, just west of Llanelli. Here, bare `brownfield` habitat holds a profusion of flowering plants including swathes of bird`s-foot trefoil. By `sweeping` the latter plant with my net, I have recorded six-belted clearwings in season, at several localities in and around Llanelli....have a go this summer! This species of trefoil also supports other butterflies and moths.

                                         Above: brownfield site at Burry Port
Again with marbled coronets in mind, I seemed to recall campions also growing at this site, but this time they were bladder campions. This site is also surrounded by dry coastal grassland and I`m hopeful that the `remaining with the trap technique` may bring dividends this year.

                                         Above: bladder campions at Burry Port.

We`ll see what the season brings!

1 comment:

  1. Worth looking for Coleophora silenella cases on the Bladder Campion. In Wales currently known only from Cardiff heliport (I think)! See: