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Sunday, 11 October 2015

Houdini and the throw-away moth....

I`ve trapped for two nights over the weekend - a quite successful night with six traps out on Friday (9/10) and a far less profitable night last night (10/10), with three traps.
On Friday, I had two traps out at home (a mains actinic and an MV); another mains actinic at another garden in the western outskirts of Llanelli, a small actinic below some beeches at Cilymaenllwyd (Pwll), and two actinics on the coast just east of Burry Port. The Saturday night trap was at Dafen in SN50 (two actinics) and another trap among some broom/amenity wodland edge etc at Machynys in SS59. I`ll discuss the Saturday night trap in the following briefer blog.
The Friday night trap turned a far variety (for the time of year) of moths in the various traps, the best of which was a scarce bordered straw in my mains actinic at home in Pwll. This, apart from a single rusty-dot pearl (and several silver y`s in various traps) was the only migrant, unless some turnip moths (in three traps) also fall into that category too.
As the selection of moths - some 35 species - was pretty good, I thought that it would be a good opportunity to photograph a selection of these autumnal species to encourage local moth`ers to realise that the season is far from over and to continue trapping. To that end, I retained quite a few specimens which I only got round to photograph this afternoon - I now wish that I`d only kept a few of the more interesting ones - see later!
Anyway, some of the moths caught are shown below:

                                          Above: oak nycteoline (any ideas which variety?).
                                           Above: I think that this is a pallid male turnip.
                                                     Above: green-brindled crescent.
                                                         Above: large wainscot (female).
                                                           Above: red-line quaker.
                                                             Above: lunar underwing.
                                                       Above: grey pine carpet.
                                                            Above: pine carpet.

I expect you are now waiting to see the photo of the scarce bordered straw that I caught - well, you won`t, as it`s disappeared. As it was the `star moth`, I thought that I`d perch it on a rather special shrub that has conspicuous bright lilac berries - Callicarpa bodinieri - that is very showy at the moment. Carefully tipping the moth out of the container onto the berries, it perched reasonably nicely but as I moved away, I accidentally caught myself on an adjacent branch which then itself shook the branch with the moth on it and the latter fell. I was n`t too worried at first, as below the Callicarpa is a large bush of lavender and, without disturbing it, looked carefully for the moth but I could n`t see it! Now, the moth did NOT fly away, so it had to be there somewhere - but I could n`t find it even though I went through the lavender (and below) very carefully. It did n`t help that the lavender itself also has plants growing below it.
I`ve now had a second look and failed, so I`ll put one of my small `mobile actinics` right next to the lavender this evening in the hope of recapturing it* (I was n`t going to trap tonight as it`s supposed to be cold and clear). I wanted to photograph this individual as it was slightly darker than the one I caught at the same site last autumn.
*[ PS. I`ve just - 6.00pm - put the trap out before dusk in case it tries to depart early!]
My moth problems don`t end there! Yesterday morning, when quickly - in a rush - going through the egg cartons in the mains actinic trap set out in another suburban garden, I was doing the usual thing checking each in turn....(eg) `black rustic or other common moth` and then tapping the carton forcefully to send the moth hurtling into the adjacent herbaceous border etc. About to tap one carton, I saw a small brownish carpet which, although slightly worn, seemed to have rather strong diagonal markings on its wings so I stopped momentarily - is a cypress carpet perhaps? Thinking that the latter was grey and not brownish I thought `no`, and it too had the `mega flick` to freedom - it flew away in the process. I should have retained it anyway! Looking at the `Moths of the Bristol Region` last night, there was a photo just like the one I saw! `Blast, blast, blast` (or worse) I thought.....I`ll be more careful in future. I`m not going to claim this unproven record and I`ll re-trap at this site as soon as I can this week, but the nights are supposed to be cold and clear during the first part of the week.
Some lessons for me above....!


  1. Unlucky, Ian, but still some good moths: I would love to have seen Oak Nycteoline: I never have - cracking picture, too. Is that the new camera?

  2. No Steve, still using the old one!