Welcome back to Moth Monday! I’m happy to report that it warmed up a bit over the past week so I do have some new moths to show you from my garden in north Dorset. But before we get onto those, here are the answers to last week's moth ID quiz:
Some fabulous (and quite long) names there. Moths can have really interesting and sometimes quite odd names, hopefully we’ll encounter some of the stranger ones over the season. And huge thanks to Farah Ealson-Taylor for the artwork!
Last week’s blog also inspired some amazing artwork, sent to us by blog reader and volunteer Tom and his granddaughter Adelina. Adelina made this cool Hummingbird Hawkmoth!
Photo: Tom le Cocq
It would be amazing to see one of these this year. This moth is mainly active during the day in sunshine and is visible as it hovers at various plants with tubular flowers to feed, just like a hummingbird. Keep your eye on plants such as red valerian, buddleia and petunia. We had one at Ham Wall last year visiting the planters outside the welcome building, much to the delight of visitors and the volunteers in the welcome building. Thanks Adelina and Tom for sharing your amazing moth-making skills!
Since last Monday I’ve had the moth trap out five times and managed to get visitors on four of those occasions. By the way, the dates below are the date that the trap was put out, rather than the morning after that I go through them. Here's what I caught on those five nights:
Monday 30 March – zilch! Maybe a bit cold??
Wednesday 01 April – four moths, hurrah! Three of them were Hebrew Characters and the fourth was a lovely Early Grey – a new moth for me. The Hebrew Character is a fairly distinctive moth, named after the black mark in the centre of the forewing. This saddle-shaped(ish) mark is unique among the early fliers. They fly March to mid-May in the south and will even fly in cold conditions. Larval foodplant includes, guess what – oak trees! The Hebrew Character is on the left in the photo below.
The other moth is the Early Grey and was so wonderfully furry it deserved a close-up:
The forewing is a lovely grey marbled with darker greys and browns. The key feature for this moth is the pale oval and kidney-mark on the forewing, with an extra oval joined to the first and usually the kidney-mark too (as highlighted in the photo). They fly March-May and the foodplant is honeysuckle, so I’m assuming there must be some in the neighbourhood somewhere (not my garden unfortunately).
Friday 03 April – just one lonely moth, another Hebrew Character.
Saturday 04 April – another night with just one moth but this time a pug. There are a number of pug moths and the thing they all mostly have in common is that they are difficult to identify! I’ve given it a go but hopefully someone will kindly let me know if my guess was inaccurate. I’ve gone for Brindled Pug.
I’ve not encountered one before but apparently they are an abundant spring pug, with a mottled forewing and a distinct dark central spot which is usually elongated and slit-like. They fly March-May and larval foodplants are hawthorn and oak. Pugs also don't keep still for very long, hence the photo in the tube rather than after release.
Sunday 05 April – three moths were waiting for me this morning. I was quite surprised - it was definitely milder last night but it did also rain at some point. Luckily the trap design performs well and any rain funnels down into a central hole and is kept away from the egg box hiding places within. I had another Common Quaker and another Early Grey, but the repetition is good for my memory and I didn’t need to check the ID book for those. I did need it for the third moth though and it was a beauty…. a Brindled Beauty in fact!
Described as a distinctive, furry moth you can see the heavy black crosslines and banding on the forewing, although the wing pattern itself can be variable. Y ou can also hopefully see the wonderfully feathered antennae, which mean that this particular moth is male. In many species the male’s antennae are broader and often feathery on one or both sides. Females have thin, single stranded antennae.
The Brindled Beauty flies from March–late May, with larval foodplants including many shrubs and broadleaved trees. A lovely find in the trap this morning.
In other garden news, a peacock butterfly flew around the garden briefly on one of the sunnier days, I forget which....I think most of us don't know which day of the week it is most of the time now (except Moth Monday of course!) Having very little plant life to keep it occupied, the butterfly didn't stay long. I'm happy to report though that veggies and flowers are growing in pots as fast as they can and hopefully the garden will be more attractive soon. And some exciting bird news - a pair of starlings are building a nest in the garden / house - read Steve's blog from Friday for more news on that!
So that’s it for this week, and while I know other people are getting more moths in their trap than me, I’m quite pleased so far! With the bulb I’ve got competing with an even brighter street light nearby I’m happy to get anything, plus the steady trickle is a nice way to refresh my moth memory. It looks as though the weather is getting a bit chilly tonight but then warming up nicely, so hopefully I’ll have even more new moths for you next week.
Let me know if you’ve seen any moths in your own gardens, or if you’ve been inspired to create any moth art at home like Adelina and Tom!
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