It’s Monday again which can only mean one thing – moths!  And it's Easter Monday no less - Happy Easter everyone!

It’s been an interesting week in our north Dorset garden.  The trap has been out on six occasions and with only one moth on Tuesday night and one moth on Wednesday night I was quite excited to get three on Friday morning.  And then it went crazy!  But I’m jumping ahead….. here’s how it all unfolded.  A reminder that the dates below are the date that the trap was put out, rather than the morning after that we go through the trap.

Tuesday 07 April – only one moth but a really lovely new one called a Streamer.  The name relates to the black marking that looks to be ‘streaming’ from the outside (leading) edge of the moth, and you can just about see the violet / purple tinge in places.

It was a fairly easy moth to pick out from the field guide, with its lovely fresh markings.  The Streamer flies from April-May and the larval foodplant is dog-rose.

Wednesday 08 April – another night with just one moth, a Hebrew Character.

Thursday 09 April – excitement - three moths in the trap!  The first was an obvious one, another Hebrew Character.  One thing we’ve noticed is that these moths always play dead when we get them out the trap.  A quick search online and it looks as if this is a fairly common thing for Hebrew Characters!  The second moth was another Small Quaker and the third was a Chestnut – thank you to volunteer Dave Nevitt who just confirmed this one for me!

Chestnuts can be highly variable but there was a nice reddish brown to it that was difficult to capture in the photo. They overwinter as an adult and become active again in mild weather, we can forgive it for looking slightly worn.

Friday 10 April – after the slim pickings to date it was a bit of a shocker on Saturday morning – 15, yes FIFTEEN moths!!  It took a while to pot them all up and then see which could immediately be re-released and which needed a bit of time flicking through the book.  The first ones back outside were: three Hebrew Characters; two Brindled Beauty; one Common Quaker; two Small Quaker, and this lovely Brimstone – although we hadn’t had one yet this year it’s quite an easy one to identify:

The other new ones for the year were:

Pale Prominent – a very distinctive moth that resembles a piece of broken wood! Also note the upturned palps at the front end. Look to the other end and you can see the tail tuft is divided, which tells us this particular moth is male:

Dotted Border – quite easy to match this one to the picture in the book.  Look for the black dots along the edges of both the forewing and hindwing:

Bright-line Brown-eye – (not to be confused with the Brown-line Bright-eye – a different moth altogether…!) The ‘brown eye’ is the orangey blotch in the kidney mark and the ‘bright-line’ is the clear white outer cross-line that forms a W.  Larvae feed on a range of woody and herbaceous plants including nettles and willowherbs:

Nut-tree Tussock – another furry moth mainly with a pale grey bottom half and a dark grey-brown top:

Powdered Quaker – not 100% sure about this one but we’re going for Powered Quaker, can anyone advise otherwise?  CURRENTLY BEING CHECKED!

A fabulous haul I think you’ll agree!  In the excitement I forgot to take photos of some of them outside after they'd been released, hence the slightly blurry pot photos in some cases.

Saturday 11 April – we opened the trap with excitement yesterday morning and were rewarded with even more moths – 16 in total!  Most of them we had encountered before: eight Hebrew Characters; three Small Quaker; one Brindled Beauty; one Early Grey, and one Brindled Pug. The two new ones for the year were:

Frosted Green – it took me a while and a bit of help to work this one out, turns out I was looking at it from above rather than the side (the picture in the book is side on!)  Plus it doesn’t really stand out to me as being a green moth….anyway the tufts on the thorax and the greenish-white and black marbling on the forewing are the things to look out for.  It flies mid April-mid May and larval foodplant is oak.

The other newbie was beautiful too with another great name – a Lunar Marbled Brown:

The black comma on the forewing within the central cross-band is clear and it’s a thickset furry moth, which flies April-May.  Larval foodplant is again oak!  Definitely a theme with most of the moths so far.  The furry face of this moth deserved a close-up:

Sunday 12 April – after the highs of the past couple of nights we came down to earth with a bang last night, quite literally, as the very strong winds blew over a couple of propped up deckchairs, straight onto the moth trap.  Should have checked the forecast!  No idea exactly what time that happened but with it being so blowy anyway we were not surprised to only have two moths this morning.  A Hebrew Character (playing dead of course) and a Small Quaker.  Still nice though.

So a very exciting week for moths and lots of time spent flicking through the field guides for the new ones encountered.  Has anyone else been having success with their garden moth trap? Let us know if you have!

We've got a couple of cold nights coming up now and I'll use the downtime to check the trap over and see if the deckchairs did any damage last night – fingers crossed all is well.

Happy mothing everyone!