Sunday, 8 June 2014

Phero-moans

I'm developing a hatred of pheromones. I've spent too many hours staring at the bloody things hanging from a tree/bush/stick waiting for the patter of tiny wings to arrive. Today I targeted a good area of young birch (for White-barred Clearwing), cleared birch (for Large Red-belted Clearwing) and oak parkland (for Yellow-legged Clearwing). I know that one of the sites I visited has recorded the target species before (including last weekend) - so what am I doing wrong?

The flight times are OK. The habitat is OK. I've started to wonder if my pheromone bungs have not been impregnated with the magical chemicals at all! But, having said that, I know that my Six-belted Clearwing lure works OK as that provided my sole success last summer.

I'm leaving the lure out for 20-30 minutes. It's always been a sunny day (with at least a slight breeze). I'm beginning to lose patience... but, of course, I must not give in.

Today wasn't a moth-free zone as I recorded the garden's first Grass Rivulet last night. Better late than never.

5 comments:

  1. I've never tried pheromones which is probably why I've only 5 clearwings to my name, but it does go to show that it is entirely possible to find these moths without lures. Hornet Clearwing I had sitting on a shed door handle in North Cheam, Lunar Hornet I reared from cut sallow stumps (4 stumps gave 3 moths) from Epsom Common, plus 1 newly emerged at Dawlish Warren, Yellow-legged I swept from a meadow at Russia Dock Woodlands near Rotherhithe (!), White-barred and Six-belted were both spotted resting on vegetation at what was Nutbourne Quarry, unfortnately now a posh housing estate. Lures may be fun, but I'd rather find the moths by putting in the effort rather than 'cheat'. Be different if I was surveying many sites for clearwings where a quick result is desirable, but that's just my own viewpoint on the matter. Great blog title, btw!

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    1. I've found both Hornet and Lunar Hornet by cold searching Seth, but, unlike you, my eyes lack a laser-like quality, so the lures are my best bet!

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  2. Certainly possible to record clearwings without lures, especially the hornets, but don't see how recording clearwings with lures is any more 'cheating' than running a light trap? You can certainly record moths without light traps - just a lot less species and significantly fewer individuals!

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  3. Or chumming for petrels for that matter!

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  4. Calm down Skev mate, of course lures aren't actually cheating, just a very handy shortcut. But yes, you certainly can find a lot of moths by day searches. I once helped record over 100 micros on a day search at one London site, not a lure or trap in sight. It's a lot more satisfying (to my mind) to actively search rather than setting up a light trap and effectively sitting back to reap the rewards which doesn't hone any nature skills other than that of ID. Admittedly the light traps pull in about a gazillion times more moths and variety, but that's not the point ;)

    Have to admit I love a good chum slick, had everything from Wilson's Petrel to Blue Shark and loved every minute of it. Dirty rotten cheat that I am :)

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