After all the gloom and doom regarding our moths in 2016 both out in the field and here at my home trapping area 2017 turned out to be completely different. In fact it was a record breaking year for me here with 842 species noted (19 new site records in this total), beating my previous highest by almost 100 species. This is quite a major improvement compared to the species total in 2016 which was 689 species.
I’ll never know for sure why this was but there are a few things that probably helped. There was a cold spell over the winter (in January), something I think is vital for the overwintering stages of moths. There were good warm spells especially in June and early July which always helps with getting better catches. Mild spells in the autumn too, good for migrants and also second generations of earlier summer moths as well as some of the immigrant species that arrived earlier and bred. It wasn’t all good however with September being a month that sticks in the mind as being very poor due to cool weather, meaning that a few regular species didn’t make an appearance here this year – Heath rustic, Bulrush wainscot and Webb’s wainscot being examples.
Having already heard from another Suffolk recorder that it was their second best ever year for species, how was it for others?
After seeing a few moths around security lights at work this week thought I’d give a trap a go up in the woods here to see what early spring stuff was about. Very pleased to find a good number of moths in and around the trap this morning, including a couple of surprises. Amongst the more usual Winter moths, Mottled umbers and Spring ushers were singletons of both Small brindled beauty and Oak beauty, my earliest ever records of both. In fact I’ve never seen either species in January before, they normally appear at their earliest here at the end of February. I’m guessing the cold snap late last year followed by the mild spell now has tricked them into early emergence. With cold weather due to return perhaps this wasn’t a good idea for them to appear!
Full list recorded: Spring usher 23, Mottled umber 9, Winter moth 4, Chestnut 4 and singles of Oak beauty, Small brindled beauty, Pale brindled beauty and Satellite. Gets the year list off to a good start.
Trap from the 11th January
The cold NE wind died down here today so with the temperature 6 deg. and plenty of cloud to keep it that way I took my wemlight trap to nearby woodland to see what might turn up. Switched it on just before 5pm (powered by 12 volt battery) and spent an hour wandering around the wood with torch. Still plenty of Winter Moth on the wing, I counted over 50 netted and on tree trunks. A walk along the old hawthorn/blackthorn hedge on the perimeter of the wood produced half a dozen Early Moth on the branch tips (no females seen). Back at the trap mostly on the sheet were a few more Winter Moth, 3 Early Moth, a Dark Chestnut, Mottled Umber and 2 very fresh Spring Usher. I was quite happy with 5 species on 9th January and home for tea by 6.45.
After the freezing cold conditions last week, the weather has turned right on it’s head this week to mild. Wasn’t really tempted at the start to trap as I’d already recorded all the expected late season species for the year here. I then saw that there were 13 Mottled umber and a few Winter moth around the security lights at work yesterday and that tempted me to put a trap on in the woods last night.
Pleased and surprised to find the trap covered in moths this morning! Large number of Mottled umber on, in and around the trap, final total 112 individuals! This is easily my best ever total for that species here, previous highest 57 on 13th January 2011. 9 Winter moth, 5 Chestnut and a Ypsolopha ustella also noted. No December moth strangely, maybe over here.
A good range of colour forms of Mottled umber present, most dominant an orange-brown colour, with some nice light sandy ones with dark bands the next most common. One with very deformed wings also made it in, no way it flew must have crawled.
All helps having an area of woodland to trap in this time of year, pretty sure I would have seen a lot less in a garden trap if I had run one on the edge of the site.
Season’s greetings to all!
Trap full of umbers
Various colour forms of the umbers
Is what we appear to be getting at the moment, in contrast to our recent experiences and with it expected throughout December. So Winter moth appears on 20th November here at Hollesley and plenty of December moth too. The 3rd December found a Yellow-line Quaker hanging on as it appears to have taken the place of Beaded Chestnuts here.
In my front garden trap on 10th November I had 4 moths, Silver Y, Dark Sword-grass and 2 Dark Arches. I had a couple of Dark Arches during October too and if I recall correctly they too were in the front garden trap. This makes me think these individuals were immigrants. I would be very interested to hear of any records of this species from this tail end of 2017 from more inland locations.
Five nights trapped this month. Some findings different than those further south with Lunar Under-wing and Beaded Chestnut having a good season here after a couple of not so good years for the former. I’m glad Raymond mentioned Cypress Carpet as I hadn’t seen it since my apparent 2nd Suffolk record in 2011 until the 17th, with two taken. However subsequent nights of 19th 23rd 25th and 26th it was not seen despite my having enough habitat for a very strong colony. Other than Raymond I wonder if anyone else records it on a regular basis? Blair’s Shoulder-knot doing rather poor here as with other Moth’ers. Reluctant to highlight too many moths doing well as that is the majority, however, very high numbers, for the site, of Green Brindled Crescent worth a mention. Brick appears to be doing very badly though with only a single specimen seen and it was a no show for Pink-barred Sallow this year. Immigrants were the abundant ones of this autumn and in no great number, although no Palpita vitrealis for me this season. My last Painted Lady Butterfly turned up on one of those orange sun days the 6th of October and it was seen again a few days later no doubt transported in the wrong direction by the warm winds. A pretty good year for that species in my garden this year with it present in single figures throughout most weeks of the summer.
I have wandered no further from home than down the road to The Patch for mothing this last month. The month started poorly but improved considerably as it progressed and then ended with some cold days more in line with expected weather for the time of year with December Moth from 26th bringing that fact home.
It has been a good year here for some species that are normally scarce such as Cypress Carpet that seems to be on the increase, Streak, Blair’s Shoulder-knot and Feathered Brindle. Also high numbers of Phyllonorycter messaniella. One of particular note has been Hypsopygia glaucinalis. So abundant with up to 15 a night (2 traps). There has been discussion in social media as to whether or not it is an immigrant as it has been found by many moth-ers this October. The numbers I have caught have been so unusually high that I believe at least some of them must be immigrant. Another species that has stood out for me has been Adoxophyes orana. Normally lucky if I get one a year. I have seen several this October. Nice to be catching Acleris schalleriana routinely now too. It has been a very poor year here for the Beaded Chestnut. The autumn noctuid Yellow-line Quaker seems to have replaced it though the dominant species in the catches has been the Black Rustic. One of my favourite moths. It has also been another good autumn for the Epirrita and I have recorded the Pale November at The Patch and taken one at home.
As for out of season species and immigrants, I am finding it increasingly difficult to separate moths into these categories these days. Moths deemed as immigrants by some are resident for me. Crocidosema plebejana is a regular double brooded catch in my garden. Rosy Footman has been caught on a number of occasions but there has been discussion as to whether that could be an immigrant. I think not. I caught a Bedellia somnulentella on 24th and another one on 25th in my front garden trap along with other immigrants such as Pearly Underwing and Vestal. I spent days trying to photograph this tiny moth with a novel haircut that would not keep still only to find Neil posting the best photo on this blog. You have my best attempt anyhow. I believe they are immigrants. Neils was caught on 25th too. The Blood-vein has been a regular. Also species that have turned up include, Buff, Common and Dingy Footman, Dark Arches, Swallow-tailed, Brimstone, Kent Black Arches and Clepsis consimilana. I had a Vapourer at the patch on 26th. Not common here.
On 19th I caught a Cosmopolitan. This was the windy day and the day Matthew caught his Death’s Head Hawk-moth. The Cosmopolitan has been turning up in numbers to the UK this October and penetrating well inland. It is also considered to breed in the UK on occasions. On 22nd I thought I had a second one but on closer examination I got to wondering and then examination of the hindwings showed it to be a White-speck but it was smaller than the Cosmopolitan. It is a worn individual of this moth that is resident in the south and my second example. I am thinking that these might be species that we will start to see regularly in Suffolk. In the USA the White-speck has a north-south migration pattern as part of its normal life style. Probably a different climate here but could that happen in the UK? Scarce Bordered Straw, Delicate and Vestal have been in abundance, not just for me but elsewhere coastally in the UK, whilst the more usual ‘regular’ immigrant species have been in relative short supply.
Wishing you all happy and successful mothing.
Didn’t feel like autumn much this month, with some warm sunny days and mild nights. There were some good spells of southerly winds that brought plenty of migrants to the UK and I did get a few, more on this later.
Trapped on 16 nights during the month. Best night the 23rd with 45 species recorded in 3 traps. The Moth Night event also took place during the month from the 12th-14th. Best night of the 3 here was the 13th with 39sp recorded in 2 traps.
Generally moth numbers were very good for the time of year, with some of the autumnal species putting on a really good showing. Black rustic, Merveille du Jour (average of at least 5 a night here), Flounced chestnut, Dark chestnut, Dotted chestnut, Pine carpet and Orange sallow were all particularly prevalent. However I would say here at this site that Lunar underwing and Blair’s shoulder knot were in low numbers. Lunar underwing has showed a steady decline for a couple of seasons now, hopefully it will bounce back.
There was a single record of Dusky-lemon sallow on the 19th (quite a worn one).
A significant trend this autumn has been the variety of summer species appearing again in small numbers. Here is a list of what I have noted: Endotricha flammealis (a few), Carcina quercana, Pebble hook-tip (15th), Clouded border (16th), Cedestis subfasciella (a few), Blood-vein (23rd), Double-striped pug (2), Least carpet (25th) and Dark arches (26th). I’m sure others have noted the same and/or different species.
Micros have been much more interesting than the macros this month. First, there were 2 new site records – Cosmopterix pulchrimella on the 23rd and Bedellia somnulentella on the 25th. The pulchrimella is a leaf miner on Pellitory of the wall of which there is none round here so it must have wandered a bit of a distance to get here. This moth is also a new Suffolk record. The somnulentella is a leaf miner in Bindweed and going on the number of places I have seen the mine this year is having a good season, something it is prone to do.
Other micros seen have included Plutella porrectella (8th), Acleris schalleriana (2 on 18th), Agonopterix ocellana (25th) and Diurnea lipsiella (from the 23rd onwards). More unwelcome was the discovery of 100′s of larvae of Indian Meal moth Plodia interpunctella in a sack of bird seed. A nice colourful micro but not one I want to spread so the seed was destroyed.
Finally on to the migrants. Being 10 miles inland I’ve not had the numbers the coastal guys have been getting, but the commoner species have been around in low numbers. Scarcer species have included the Vestal, seen regularly from the 18th in ones and twos both at light and during the day with a maximum of 3 on the 26th. Palpita vitrealis (3 on the 23rd and another worn one on the 26th). Crocidosema plebejana (18th, only the second site record). Other recorders not too far away from me have seen more rarer migrants but none appeared here but that is all down to luck, maybe it will be my turn in the next migrant spell. Only had the one Scarce bordered straw here all year whilst others have reported lots. I have a theory on this – I think the moth has been breeding on arable crops or the weeds growing amongst them. I am quite a distance from arable land here in suburban Ipswich whilst I know the guys seeing lots of the moth are surrounded by farmland. No proof of this but just a thought.
With cold weather now finally setting in will it be the end of this excellent year for moths?
Indian Meal moth
8 recorders attended this meeting, the last of the field season for 2017. Not the warmest of days and a bit of a breeze blowing. The day started at Reydon wood, a SWT reserve with a reasonable mix of tree species. Was nice and sheltered within the wood so we were able to record a good range of species. 64 were noted. Of possible interest were the following.
Caloptilia semifascia (cones on Maple), Coleophora gryphipennella (cases on Dog rose), Coleophora solitariella (case on Greater stitchwort), Parornix betulae (folds on young Birch), Ectoedemia septembrella (mines on St John’s wort), Diurnea fagella (larva on Oak) and Infurcitinea argentimaculella (larval tubes on lichen at base of Birch tree). Best record were the mines of Elachista gangabella found on False brome grass near the wood entrance, the first modern record of this species for Suffolk.
After lunch at a local pub for some, a few of the recorders moved on to Beccles marsh for another survey. The weather had worsened a bit, with rain showers and stronger breeze which made recording on this more open site difficult. 38sp were found, with the following of possible interest. Tawny speckled pug (larva on Yarrow seedheads), Coleophora albitarsella (case on Ground ivy), Stigmella regiella (on Hawthorn), Coleophora artemisicolella (feeding signs on Mugwort, no sign of the cases), Coleophora follicularis (case on Fleabane).
Overall a good day’s recording despite some challenging weather.