Moth Morning at Marne

Sunday, July 15th 2012

Approximately 100 species of moth were recorded by Charlie Fletcher at Marne Barracks on Saturday. This was a good number considering the relatively low temperature for the time of year. A record number of people turned out to help with setting up the mercury vapour traps on the training area between the barracks and the River Swale close to the A1 at Catterick. The traps were put out on Friday evening and then the identification began at 6.30am.

Moth morning

The moths are found inside the traps hiding amongst the empty egg boxes.

Emptying the moth trap

In total seven traps were emptied and Charlie rattled off the names of the contents.

Marne moth morning

Many of the moths are masters of camouflage such as this Buff Arches that resembles a piece of flint.

Buff Arches

Buff Tip looks just like a twig!

Buff Arches

Several Poplar Hawk Moths were discovered.

Poplar Hawk Moth

This stunning Elephant Hawk Moth also made an appearance.

Elephant Hawk Moth

Charlie explained that The Drinker moth (below) gets its name from the caterpillars habit of drinking large droplets of rainwater or dew from the grass stems on which they feed. 

The Drinker

The shiny metallic brassy greenish yellow pattern on the wings of the Burnished Brass are unmistakable.

Burnished Brass

Another distinctive moth, the Yellow Shell, is often disturbed and seen during the day.

Yellow Shell

There were plenty of dull coloured moths too (wee brown jobs difficult to seperate!) including the Dingy Shears shown here!

Dingy Shears

The wide variety of species shows how special Marne is as an important habitat. The whole site is currently dotted with orchids amongst many other wildflowers. This just goes to show how well army training and conservation can go hand in hand.

Orchids at Marne

This event has been a great success yet again. Thanks to Charlie and Jill for their expertise and to everyone for their support. Special thanks go to Raye who kindly volunteered to close the traps at the ungodly hour of 5.00am and gathered in all of the electrical equipment, what a star! Thanks also to Whitfield for some top macro photography tips!


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