Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Great Moth Flop! Tales of Mothy Woes.

I had `high hopes` for Friday night (5/9/14) and set out five traps - two at home (an MV and a strong actinic), `mobile actinics` under beeches in Stradey Woods, at a rhos site at Cencoed-uchaf and at saltmarsh-sand dune transition at the North Dock, Llanelli. Sadly, this big effort brought minimum results - probably the worst of the year in effort:results ratio terms!
It looked good on the forecast - cloudy and quite warm and indeed as I drove to set out two of the mobile traps in the terminating dusk and quickening gloom at c 8.15pm, moths were passing the car`s headlights - a good sign. I placed out the North Dock trap much later, at c 10.30pm, after I`d met friends at a pub, as the site is near a car park where youths and others gather; in the dark they would be unlikely to walk through the black night to my relatively distant trapping location. When this last trap was being set up, I noticed that it was still a warm night with a very dull hazy moon, with adequate cloud cover and I returned home to bed, anticipating plenty of moths the next day.
Up early on Saturday morning, I collected in the two home traps and merely blocked the entrances/ exits so that I could inspect them later and then rushed out to collect the North Dock trap before any early dog walkers. The other two traps were then also collected.

                          Above: the North Dock trap site - good potential, but poor results.

This above trap, the first to be inspected, proved to the best, albeit in a very mediocre way. It was dominated by flounced rustics, mostly a moth of neutral/calcareous grassland in my experience (eg along the coast and at the limestone inland at Palycwrt, but small numbers in other habitats too). Lime-speck pugs were also in comparatively fair numbers and half-a-dozen yellow belles were caught. The `grass moths` were represented by Agriphila geniculea (typical for such dry habitats). There were also ones or twos of a very small number of common species.

                                         Above: Agriphila geniculea. (left-click to enlarge).

My next site was under beeches in Stradey Woods where, following Barry Stewart`s recent home capture, I was hoping for a possible barred hook-tip, but failed. There were only a very few common moths in this trap and the same was true for my next site at Cencoed-uchaf, where the trap was on acidic wet `rhos` with birch scrub etc. I did n`t even bother to jot down what the moths were as I`ve had them all at these localities before....even the dreaded large yellow underwing was only represented by one in each trap!
At home, my MV and actinic was likewise dire and I consoled myself that at least that there would be less`det`ing` and listing to do! A little compensation was provided by a single Ypsolopha parenthesella (a handsome micro!), a Chinese character, rusty-dot pearl (plus a few silver y`s), a cabbage moth and a fresh copper underwing.

A clouded yellow butterfly was at Pwll Fishing Lakes on Friday afternoon.


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