Saturday, 3 August 2019

The moths that came to stay

An update on the garden moth colonisers. All were nothing but 'wishful thinking' or a 'gardener's nightmare' just a few years ago.

Oak Processionary (above)
Banstead was a bit late to the party for this 'pest' with my first (quickly followed by two more) in July 2018. This summer it has increased in number, with a current peak of six on August 1st.

Small Ranunculus
This species used to be a resident in the south-east of England until the early part of the 20th century, when it suddenly disappeared. It was then rediscovered along the Thames Estuary in the 1990s, slowly spreading eastwards and reaching the garden on August 5 2004. It is almost annual here now, but no more than 2-3 are recorded in a single year.

Toadflax Brocade
I used to see this species at Dungeness when it was considered to be a coastal species of southern and south-east England. But it started to appear inland, particularly in London and the Home Counties. I discovered a larvae in the garden feeding on Purple Toadflax on August 16 2009, with the first adult being recorded on May 23 2010. Since then it has been annual, but in small (2-5) numbers.

Jersey Tiger
I travelled to Devon to see my first one in the early 1990s, and would have scarcely believed back then that it was destined to become a firm fixture of London and northern Surrey gardens. How it arrived here is open to conjecture, although it has also spread eastwards along the south coast. After singles on August 17 2012 and August 1 2013, it has became a regular visitor to the MV, peaking at 30 on August 7 2018.

Once considered an immigrant, this is another species that seems to have made the south-east its home. After the first on September 4 2013 I can expect to see several each year, with three together on June 20 2014 having yet to be bettered.

Cypress Carpet
From a first UK record in 1984, this moth has become established in southern counties of England. I had to play a waiting game to get the garden's first, as it was popping up all around me, but on June 25 2015 it finally put in an appearance, and has since been recorded annually in small numbers.

Gypsy Moth
My first, on an oppressively muggy night in August 2012, was the start of a slow colonisation of the surrounding area, with my first multiple arrival in 2017. Three is the highest count for a single night.

Box Moth
This dreaded stripper of box plants first surfaced in the MV during June 2017 and has since become an all to familiar species in the MV, peaking at 31 on August 7 2018.

Tree-lichen Beauty (bottom)
The moth colonised the south-east during the early 2000s and then started to move beyond. My first was on August 2 2011, with a handful the following year, then annually recorded in increasing numbers (with four on August 10 2013 and 10 on July 26 2014). Since then, in July and August, it is now of daily occurrence, with a peak count of 21 on August 1 2019. And no two are the same...


martinf said...

Have just been mothing in the Pyrenees and Box tree moth was commonest species by far 🙄

Stewart said...

Give it another 20 years I I might get one of those...

Steve Gale said...

Martin - that's the stuff of nightmare's!

Stewart - don't wish too hard...