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Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Moth Mayhem

Checked today's catch and found a scene of carnage. 145 LYUs, three dopey hornets and the remains of at least another 10 assorted moths, including a Poplar Hawk-moth that had been disemboweled on the trap floor. The whole trap stunk to high heaven and further inspection found two dead and well dismantled Sexton Beetles. I get lots of these and they always give off a strong scent when I remove them, as do some of the larger black brutes! I'm surprised that the Hornets had killed them and the moths.
Amongst all this was a White Ermine, oblivious to the scenes of murder and violence. Is this likely to be a second generation moth. My last one was on 28th June. I had a quick read up and found that there is occasionally a second generation but mainly in the South. Of interest?
We have now found the hornets nest under the loose bark of a large Oak, just 300 yds or so from the cottage. Should we record this?
White Ermine with Sharp-angled Peacock avoiding the horror below


  1. Gosh Jane, that sounds like a nightmare scenario, enough to put one off trapping - at least at this time of year. I hope that it won't though! What do you do with the hornets, give them headaches or let them go? My son in SW France has large numbers of hornets in his garden every year, but he has fig trees and the fruit keep the hornets well occupied. Perhaps you should plant a fig tree!

  2. I keep getting told that Hornets are non aggressive and jolly nice creatures but I'm afraid I find them just a bit scary. I also know of a man who was stung by one out of the blue and was dead before the ambulance could arrive, ( down in Sussex a few years ago) .
    I'm not trapping tonight, I've not got around to cleaning the trap yet, village Show stuff taking precedence, but as you say, enough to put me off mothing for a day or two.

  3. Death by hornet sting must have been some sort of allergic reaction. I have only encountered aggressive hornets on one occasion and that was at the nest, they had taken over one of my barn owl boxes. I didn't get stung as it was obvious that they were defensive at just a couple of rungs up the ladder.
    I have rarely had one settle on me in a trap and used to pot them and leave them by the trap if I was concerned.

  4. Hornets have been regular at my Dingestow trap for 20+ years and I remember one night when I tried a new trap location that must have been in sight of a nest when 40+ Hornet were buzzing around the trap at 23:00. I have only been stung once. I don't think I have ever had problems with Hornets or even wasps killing moths in the trap overnight, although if one leaves a wasp in the trap during the day it will fly off and tell its friends, which results in many moths being eaten. Did you check the trap a little late on the "carnage" morning?

  5. 06.30. I've had hornets buzzing before midnight previously. It's not the first time I've had killings.