Moth-a-thon

Wednesday, July 23rd 2014

As usual the moth trap was set last night; to no surprise after the recent warm and dry nights we had the best catch of the year so far, with 423 individuals across more than 65 species! Volunteers spent more than 7 hours today pouring over identification guides to find out exactly what had been caught in our light trap.

Burnished Brass is one of the most spectacular summer moths and is unmistakable with its large metallic wing panels. The larva of this species favour feeding on Common Nettle while adults feed primarily on Honeysuckle and Red Valerian.

Lesser Swallow Prominent can come to light abundantly in Birch scrub during the summer months. This is now the second generation of adults flying this summer; once their eggs are laid and hatch the pupa will feed on Silver Birch before creating a strong cocoon and overwintering underground.

Gold Spot are well suited to conditions here at Foxglove with the larva feeding on several species of sedge and wetland plants. Their cocoons are spun vertically between the leaves and stems of rushes and resemble the egg cocoon of a spider. As an adult this species will feed on flowers particularly those of Water Mint and Red Valerian.

The micro moth Pyrausta purpuralis was last found on the reserve four years ago. This species can be found flying between the end of March to early September and can sometimes be seen flying during the day in sunshine.

Other notable species seen today included Mother of Pearl, The Drinker and Slender Brindled. Thank you all to everyone who has spent the majority of their day helping to identify all of these moths!


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