Sunday, 18 August 2013

A moth miscellany

Rosy Rustic - signs that autumn is on the way...

Alliteration - don't you just love it? I could have gone further - 'A massive moth miscellany' or 'My meagre marvellous moth miscellany' but then that would be over-egging the pudding, wouldn't it?

Back to the reality of the MV trap haul this morning. Numbers were depressed and by far the best species recorded was the autumn's first Rosy Rustic (I don't trap that many to be honest). It is shaping up to be a good time for Straw Dot - I recorded eight yesterday which is my highest single night count in Banstead, and another couple this morning.

There are certain moths that evoke the passing seasons. When those cold winter mornings start to give up Brindled Beauties and Twin-spotted Quakers, I know that spring is on the way. When late April catches start to include prominents and Lime Hawk-moths, then summer is just around the corner. For me, it's high summer when Scalloped Oaks and Marbled Beauties appear. And autumn is upon me as soon as Flounced Rustics put in an appearance, followed quickly by a host of sallows. This mornings Rosy Rustic shouted out "autumn" as much as the smell of a leaf-burning bonfire. No doubt we all have our own seasonal triggers.

Yesterday, whilst in correspondance with Sean Clancy over my Fan-foot query, we were reminiscing about his old Wallington back garden. Sean has not lived there for over thirty years, but as a teenager used to run an actinic trap with some success. As much as we were marvelling at the new suite of moth species now obtainable to the 'London' lepidopterist (Tree-lichen Beauty, Jersey Tiger, Cypress Carpet, Toadflax Brocade, Small Ranunculus to name but a few), he mentioned two species that he used to record back then which you would be hard pushed to do so today - V-Moth and Golden Plusia. Regular visitors to this blog might remember me revealing that I have never seen a V-Moth. But Sean's mention of Golden Plusia made me realise that I haven't seen one here in Banstead for maybe 15 years. They used to be annual here in small numbers. When our new species arrive, they do so with a bang, but those that leave us often tip-toe away from the scene with barely a whimper...

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