20 June 2015 - Kudos to the Moth

Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella)

Last night's moth evening turned out better than expected.  Only two species were visible in the trap but beneath the egg-boxes there were more and particularly bright examples.  The Garden Carpet and Green Carpet looked as fresh and bright as they could be.  But nothing new for the list.  This morning I was watching a spotted flycatcher investigate a gap above the old dairy building when I brought my focus back into the kitchen to see a moth I hadn't seen before.  It was resting on one of the panes and I couldn't recall seeing a moth with broken orange markings on its wings. I  consulted the Field Guide to the Micro-moths of Great Britain and Ireland and couldn't spot it.  It was definitely a member of the Tortricidiae and I went backwards and forwards eliminating them one by one.  I can see it now, now that I know what it is, but I hadn't interpreted the (excellent) illustration.  The coppery, golden-orange coloured section at the base of the wing when at rest is the diagnostic mark.  I understand this section of a micro-moth's wing is called the ocellus - 'an oval, metallic, shining mark.' 

The scientific name poses more questions.  Cydia is taken from 'kudos' - a tribute to the beauty of the moth; pomonella refers to Pomona, the goddess of fruit-trees, and in this instance the pear.  The larva lives in the fruit of pears.  We have apple trees at Shandy Hall but no pear.  We have pears in the fruit bowl in the kitchen which were being munched yesterday when friends called for lunch.  Is the moth from the garden (via the window) or from the market (via the fruit)?

It's species number 363 so it's all fine by me.

Mottled Pug (Eupethicea exiguata)

This was the only moth that remained unidentified last night.  The Shoulder-striped Wainscot was remembered after a little while but pugs are pugs...  However, the markings were clearer than usual on this one and the Mottled Pug was confirmed by Dave Chesmore this afternoon.
Our next moth evening is on Friday 3 July - for the National Gardens Scheme.

15 June 2015 - Scissored Wings

Figure of Eighty (Tethea ocularis octogesimia)

This post gate-crashed into the internet before I had time to realize I had pressed the wrong button but I hope all is now under control.  Although neither species is new to the gardens both of these moths are worthy of comment.  The Figure of Eighty (Tethea ocularis octogesimia) is new to me.  Jane identified this moth a couple of years ago and that is the only one that has been recorded.  A strikingly attractive moth with the number 80 on its wings and the furriest, most elegant legs.  When at rest it adopts a tube-like appearance - a bit like the Buff-tip.  In the larval state it seems the caterpillar rests by day between two leaves that are spun together flat.

Figure of Eighty (illustration)

The Garden Pebble has been recorded before but the photograph was rather poor and the story behind its scientific name was not mentioned.  Evergestis means 'a well wrought garment'; forficalis means a pair of scissors or shears : a name that refers to the way the wings are folded in repose.  Linnaeus described the Pyralidae family as 'having wings winking into the shape of scissored deltoid'.  Butterflies close their wings as a door closes on its hinges but a pyralid moth brings them together like the sashes of a window (how appropriate for Shandy Hall) or the closing of the eyelid.  This Garden Pebble is then the quintessential member of the pyralid family as its wings do not overlap but meet over the abdomen and conceal it.

Garden Pebble (Evergestis forficalis)

Here (below) is the wee thing in imagined flight.

Garden Pebble (illustration)

There were Sandy Carpets, Silver-ground Carpets, Buff Ermine, White Ermine, a rather handsome Notocelia cynosobatella, Poplar Hawk-moths, a dozen Common Swifts, a couple of Scorched Wings, two Brimstone Moths, Silver Y and Beautiful Golden Y and three Peppered Moths.  Not bad for yet another chilly, rainy night. 

13 June 2015 - Unrecorded Firethorn

Firethorn Leaf Miner (Phyllonorycter leucographella)

The Firethorn Leaf Miner (Pyllonorycter leucographella) was the first moth that Dave Chesmore spotted when he visited Shandy Hall for the first time approximately six years ago.  A number of these moths were living in the Pyracantha growing against a wall and although I had noticed there were insects in the foliage, I hadn't realised they were moths. I was impressed when I discovered (with a magnifying glass) how beautifully marked they were.  Today, while I was tidying the same bush with secateurs (we have Coxwold Open Gardens tomorrow and are open for visitors and attendant scrutiny) I noticed a couple of Firethorn Leaf Miners fly out.  Then it struck me that the Shandy Hall mothblog might be incomplete - the blog didn't exist until 2011 and I couldn't remember if it was included. Looking back over the records the Firethorn was not mentioned, so the photograph above was taken and a proper record has been made.  

This micro-moth was first recorded in Britain in 1989 which means that Westwood and Humphreys does not include a drawing.  Where the meaning of the scientific name is concerned the description is straightforward - 'leaf digger with white writing'.  The white marks on the orange ground of the moth's wings are spectacular but need magnification to see properly. Click on the photograph and it will bring it a little closer.

That's another species recorded for Shandy Hall but not one trapped in the dark night.  3pm on an afternoon in early Summer brought this moth to light.

11 June 2015 - Rejectamenta and other Excrementitious Matter

December Moth (caterpillar)

Swirling mists and heavy dew this morning, following what is supposed to be the warmest night of the week.  Very little moth activity - Poplar Hawk-moth, Clouded-bordered Brindle, Silver-ground Carpet, Pale Tussock, White Ermine and a cockchafer.  

In the absence of mature creatures, step forward the December Moth caterpillar for a closer look.

Caterpillar and hawthorn

The eggs were laid on 3 November 2014 and the first caterpillar emerged on 23 April 2015. Not all the larvae emerged at the same time and there are different stages of development in the breeding container.  When first hatched the larvae produced lots of silken threads and could be seen dangling rather pointlessly. Perhaps they disperse in this way.  After the first instar the larvae remain stock-still all the day having chosen a leaf stem upon which to stretch out their full length.  They vary slightly in colour but merge well with the hawthorn - the food plant - and tend towards lethargy.  They are quite slow and ponderous in their movement.

Frass.  From the German fressen - to devour.  H F Stainton first used the word in 1854 : the half-eaten leaves attest but too surely that some devourer is near.  These indications of the presence of a larva are expressed in the German language by the single word 'frass', and we may, without impropriety, use the same word for the immediate effect of the larva's jaws, and the more indirect effect of the excrementitious matter ejected by the larva.

E A Adams (1860) refers to frass as 'the rejectamenta found at the entrance of the burrows of wood-boring insects'.
The photograph above records one night's mass of frass as produced by the 20 or so caterpillars.

Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthoroe montanata)
A pleasingly beautiful image to refresh our sensibilities...

May Highflyer (Hydriomena pluviata)

The two moths depicted above are not new.  The Silver-ground Carpet is there purely because it is a particularly handsome specimen with exquisite patterns and colours.  The second moth photograph is by courtesy of Alison Turnbull who trapped this May Highflyer in Norfolk and it will serve very well as a replacement for the one I missed photographing on National Gardens Scheme night.  
We have another identification evening coming soon (19 June) so do come along if the weather is good.  The gardens look splendid at the moment.
Total species count now stands at 362.

6 June 2015 - Highflying in June

Moth identification evening
Last night was a National Garden Scheme open evening at Shandy Hall, when viewing the gardens and identifying moths combined.  The full moon and cloudless sky of the previous night conspired to keep moth numbers down but a good variety of species made it more than worthwhile.  Poplar Hawk-moth, Buff Ermine, Pale Prominent, Honeysuckle Moth, Pale-shouldered Brocade, Ingrailed Clay, Rustic Shoulder-knot, Clouded-bordered Brindle, Barred Umber and May Highflyer were identified and released.

The last two species on that list are new to Shandy Hall but no there are no photographs on the blog to confirm. If any of the photographers who were there last night have an image of either of these species, please email them to me and I'll include them.  Why didn't I manage to record them with my own camera?  I'll draw a veil over my incompetence... 

May Highflyer (Hydriomena impluviata)
The May Highflyer (Hydriomena impluviata) is not an uncommon moth but this is the first time it has been recorded in Coxwold.  The scientific name has watery connections - hudria meaning a water-pot; meno : to remain.  An impluvium is the name given to the square basin in the central court of a Roman villa into which rainwater was directed.  The individual we identified settled on a leaf of Phlomis russeliana and a good image of it might should have been obtained.  Oh me miserum. 

Barred Umber (Plagodis pulveraria) Fig.11 
The Barred Umber had been visible to me all day.  When the trap is set in the quarry I normally leave a muslin-sided collecting box close to the light so that those moths that don't make it into the trap might conveniently rest, already partly captured.  The strikingly marked Umber moth was on the floor of the 'cage' when I went down at dawn and for some reason I thought it had already been recorded - so I didn't photograph it. When Dave Chesmore remarked that it was a particularly nice specimen it still didn't click that it was a new one for the gardens.  So if any of our visitors have an image, do sent it along. Plagodis means 'slanting shape' from the markings on the forewing; pulveraria means 'dust' from the reddish powdered scales on the wings.  In the illustration above the Barred Umber has been placed next to a V Moth [Fig. 9]

26 May 2015 - Pale Shoulders, Brocade and Slippers

Pale-shouldered Brocade (Lacanobia thalassina)
The Pale-shouldered Brocade (Lacanobia thalassina) has been seen once before at Shandy Hall when Jane Wu recorded it on the blog dated 14 June 2013.  I don't remember seeing it at the time so this beautifully marked moth came as a surprize to me this morning.  I couldn't work out its identity and had to seek advice from Dave Chesmore.  Now the pale shoulders are clearly apparent and I hope I won't get confused again.

The excuse for a second entry of this very pretty moth can be seen below.  When illustrated in British Moths and their Transformations the Pale-shouldered Brocade has a different scientific name : Hadena thalassina with the first part of the binomial referring to the Underworld - as in the Lychnis (Hadena bicruris), a moth that was seen earlier in the week. The illustration shows the moth and a beautiful Lady's Slipper orchid as its botanical companion.  This orchid is now one of the rarest plants in the UK - if it hasn't disappeared completely.  The hand-coloured moth book was published in 1843 when the plant was not uncommon.

Pale-shouldered Brocade and Lady's Slipper Orchid
In total there were only six moths in the trap : Herald, White Ermine, Brimstone and two Pugs.  What sort of Pug?  Common, I think but Pugs are notoriously difficult. 

25 May 2015 - Longhorns and other Horns

Parornix sp. 

Another chilly night means very little is happening in the Shandy Hall garden.  A couple of Sandy Carpets, a Pseudoswammerdamia combinella, and this little micro which looks as if it belongs to the Parornix family.  There has only been one record of a Parornix (June 2013) and that one could only be identified by dissection, so it remains recorded as Parornix sp. - which is what I suspect this one's fate will be.  It can't count as a new species as it looks too much like the other one.  The scientific name means 'alongside the bird' (para ornis) - 'feathery winged'.

Elephant Hawk-moth - pupa

Last year Bowen Chang, our UPenn intern, was very pleased to see an enormous caterpillar marching across the gravel.  It was the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawk-moth  It seemed determined to find somewhere to pupate and promptly disappeared beneath the leaves and soil we provided.  This was in August.  Today I noticed one end of the chrysalis was above the ground, just by a quarter of an inch.  I'll have to keep an eye on it and hope to photograph the adult when it emerges.  The little spur or 'horn' can be seen on the right end - the sign of a hawk-moth.  The daisy is for scale.  

In 2012 a Longhorn moth was seen on the cuckoo flower and again the following Spring. This year's visitor has lost half an antenna and has settled on the flower of a forget-me-not and was quite easy to photograph.  I am still not entirely convinced that it is Cauchas rumifitrella but the other longhhorn species seem to be more clearly marked.

The mercury vapour light has been switched on again as the temperature is forecast to be around 10 degrees.  Hopefully there will be more to report tomorrow.

10 May 2015 - Moon Hedge

Moon Hedge 

Moth-trapping is about to start in earnest at Shandy Hall.  The delay has been partly to do with the exhibition which opens today in the gallery.  The title of the show is Happy Spirits and the paintings, serigraphs and lino-prints are by Carry Akroyd.  Carry has shown a number of times in the gallery, usually works relating to John Clare and the countryside, and this year's title refers to a new collection of work selected by RKR Thornton and Carry herself.  This Happy Spirit is 'a collection which celebrates the joyfulness of Clare's writing'. Her mothy image, based on observations at Shandy Hall, fits perfectly.
The exhibition opens at noon today and continues until 14 June, open every day (except Saturday) 11am - 4pm.

23 April 2015 - Biorythms

Larva and eggs of December Moth (Poecilocampa populi)

My biorhythms must be attuned to those of the December Moth or I wouldn't have searched out the egg-box (hen) with the eggs (moth) on its side this morning and wouldn't have seen that one had hatched.  That was at 7am this morning.  By the time I had had the opportunity to take a second look another six had nibbled their way out of their egg-cases and were wandering around in an adventurous manner.  Hawthorn and lime leaves have been placed close to the hatching caterpillars in the hope that they will begin to feed.  The books and UK Moths say 'variety of deciduous leaves' and 'especially lime, birch, oak and hawthorn' so these scraps of foliage should be ideal.  The hatched caterpillar is just to the left of centre in the image. 

These particular eggs were laid on 3 November 2014 (see the blogpost for that date) so they have been lying dormant for over five months.

16 April 2015 - Diversions and Digressions

The Streamer (Anticlea derivata)

This moth is The Streamer (Anticlea derivata), not an unusual visitor to the gardens but one that hasn't been given any special attention.  First recorded at Shandy Hall in 2011, single specimens have turned up every year and my assumption was that the patterns on the moth's wings reminded one of a banner or ribbon and it was named accordingly.  The derivata part of the scientific name tells us otherwise - derivo means to divert a stream (rivus) so the moth is named after the marking that starts halfway down the edge of the wing to its base.  If you look at the right wing it is the pattern from the word 'pack' to the word 'eggs'.  A little rivulet of imaginary water.  The photograph doesn't show the delicate purple colouring to the wing surface and I would have taken a better but The Streamer did not crawl obligingly onto the proffered leaf - it flew off the moment it was disturbed. 

The Streamer (larva)
The caterpillar of The Streamer is generally understood to feed on the leaves of the Dog Rose (Rosa canina) which leaves the individual above as a bit of an outsider as it seems quite happy munching Galium. 

The Streamer (illustration)

That diverted stream can be seen just above the word 'The' in the illustration.

Last night produced more moths than I was expecting - Early Thorn, Clouded Drab, Early Grey, Red Green Carpet, The Chestnut, Common Quaker and Small Quaker of which the most numerous were the Quakers.  No bats yet.  Too many rabbits.

9 March 2015 - Stirrings Still

Shoulder Stripe (Earophila badiata)

Last year (10 April 2014) the Shoulder Stripe was recorded as a new species for Shandy Hall. However the scientific name was different (Anticlea badiata) and its derivation was linked to Ulysses, war and grief.  In this alternative version (Earophila badiata) a different identity is conjured up and one that is more appropriate to the location of this photograph.  The Shoulder Stripe was spotted at 10am this morning in Kersey, Suffolk - one of the prettiest villages in England. The timbered houses crowd up to the ford (The Splash) and scramble up the hill to the magnificent, flint-napped church, passing on the way a road-sign of a blazing torch with the word 'Children' beneath. This village is of another era.

The moth had been lured to this location by an outside light and it had clamped itself onto the plaster close to the front door of one of these ancient buildings. I hope its camouflage (badiata - bay-coloured) will keep it safe until nightfall for it loves the Spring (from the Greek 'ear') and this morning was one of the most perfect of the season yet to come.

Recording a moth in Suffolk for a blog that is based in Yorkshire needs a connection and there is one.  Kersey cloth - a dense, warm woollen cloth - was made in the village in medieval times.  Another location was Calderdale.

27 February 2015 - Moth Anthology

A page from A Moth Anthology

The Moth Anthology took place at the University of York last week.  Haiku by Billy Collins, Maura Dooley, Roger Keyes, Goldsmiths College students and other creative writers were included, all drawing their inspiration from the moth species recorded in Coxwold and in the Museum Gardens in York.  The haiku were translated by students at Yamanashi University, Kofu, Japan under the supervision of Professor Michiyo Takano and Mr Yasuaki Inoue.  If you have Japanese friends do suggest they take a look.

I'll post a few pages from the book over the next few weeks while moth activity in the garden is nil.  We had no luck with the Small Eggar. 

A page from A Moth Anthology

7 February 2015 - Miniatures

The woodpecker has been drumming all morning.  It has found a spot on a telegraph pole where some sort of metal plate is fixed, high up.  The plate amplifies the sound and presumably the bird is deeply satisfied.  Snowdrops and aconites are scattered over the garden.  No moths though.  A trap has been moved to the east of Coxwold in the hope of capturing a Small Eggar - the caterpillars have been identified - but nothing has turned up yet.

Here are two more haiku from the Moth Anthology project.  

Red Green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata)

Nigel Hutchinson

summer's green carpet
now a bearded chestnut fall
the sun's arc passing


December Moth (Poecilocampa populi)

Rebecca Farmer

moths in December
gather their cloaks about them -
shouldn't still be here


22 January 2015 - News from Japan

Death's-head Hawk-moth (Acherontia atropus)

Here is the image that started it all. 

The Death's-head Hawk-moth (Acherontia atrophus) is so extraordinary and so strangely beautiful that it attracts and repels in equal measure.  This particular one was hatched at Shandy Hall in 2006 and (along with half-a-dozen others) proved to be a lure for local school-children and visitors from all over the county. The moth was persuaded onto a copy of Tristram Shandy, opposite the page that tells of the death of Parson Yorick, and the photograph was taken. (I trust that the association is clear enough without further explanation.) Nowadays I would have dozens of images but this is the only record of that time.

Now the moth's reputation has flown to Japan and settled on a page in the form of a haiku by the writer Abigail Parry.  The poem has been translated into Japanese by students from Yamanashi Prefectural University, Kofu and that translation appears today in one of Japan's oldest newspaper Asahi Shimbun.  The article informs the nation that there is to be a presentation of haiku this coming weekend which will include poems by Billy Collins (Poet Laureate USA 2000-2003), Maura Dooley, Roger Keyes and students.

Asahi Shimbun article
Death's-head Hawk-moth

The dance in full swing
and that slender fellow there,
cracking his knuckles.

Abigail Parry

Another from a writer at Goldsmiths, University of London:

moths caught in headlights -
dancing maniacs drunk
on the fake moonshine.

Rebecca Farmer

(See the notice at the top of this blog for a parallel event due to take place in February at the University of York.)

Needless to say there is very little moth activity in the gardens at Shandy Hall. Winter Moths and November Moths can still be seen occasionally and the eggs of the December Moth await Spring, otherwise all is cold and quiet.

21 January 2014 - Haiku by Maura Dooley

Sandy Carpet (Perizoma flavofasciata)

Sandy Carpet

A cockle-shell wing
opens like the memory
of a seaside town.

Maura Dooley

8 January 2015 - New for Yorkshire Region - and Billy Collins Haiku

(Calybites phasianipennella)

This slight and highly decorative insect flew into the trap in the Museum Gardens in York last July where it was identified as (Calybites phasianipennella) and posted on the blog.  What we didn't know was that it hadn't been recorded in this neck of the woods before.  For statistical purposes, Yorkshire is divided into five separate areas VC61-VC65 and the Museum Gardens is in VC62.  Had I been recording the species directly into the database (MapMate) rather than using a written list, the fact that Calybites was new to that region would have been immediately apparent. (I had been putting off using MapMate as it is anything but simple.)  Thanks to Charlie Fletcher's end-of-the-year checking of the species lists that had been submitted, followed by searching questions and requesting photographic evidence, we discovered, just this week, that Calybites was a first.
An excellent start to the year.

Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica)

Posting the news of Calybites gives the opportunity to introduce the idea of observing moths in a slightly different way.  To give each species of moth its correct common and scientific name is not an easy thing to do and requires close observation.  Some species are straightforward and cannot really be incorrectly identified (Ghost Moth, Scarce Silver-lines, Poplar Hawk-moth, for example) while others are extremely variable.  Arriving in the trap cloaked in different shades of brown or sometimes losing or gaining patterns and markings, the amateur has to rely on the knowledge of the experienced moth-trapper.  My referees are Dave Chesmore and Charlie Fletcher and were it not for their help the list of 360 species at Shandy Hall would be far from accurate.

However, show a moth to a writer of haiku (that precise and condensed form of poetic expression) and other possibilities arise.

The haiku below (written for the Marbled Beauty moth above) is by Billy Collins (American Poet Laureate 2001-2003) and is one of a number written specially for a project with The Laurence Sterne Trust.

Marbled Beauty
In your grey and white
wings, is there one face
or one for every viewer?

11 November 2014 - Autumnal Shade

(Oxypate gelatella) Autumnal Dagger
Is the moth in the hand-coloured print above the same species as the moth in the photograph below? If that is so, the Autumnal Dagger has a history of changed and altered nomenclature out of all proportion to its size.  

This species of micro moth was recorded at Shandy Hall on 15 November 2012 and blogged under the heading 'Arriving with the Frost', as that is essentially the meaning of its scientific name.  When it reappeared last night I wondered if it had a common name but couldn't find any trace of exapate or congelatella in the older reference books here.  Fortunately Charlie Fletcher kindly helped me out by sending me a list of scientific names for this  moth at different times in its history :  in 1759 Clerk called it Phaelena congelatella; then Linnaeus adjusted it to P. gelatella in 1761; Phaelena paradoxa was the name given by Sulzer in 1776; Lithosia gelata by Fabricius in 1798; before 1834 it transformed into Oxypate gelatella and then, in 1906, the moth was reborn as Exapate ignotella by De Rougemont - sometime after, the name by which it is now known was bestowed upon its tiny head.  Porter's list of vernacular names (2002) breaks a bottle of champagne  in celebration of a new name : Autumnal Shade - it is not clear if this is a 'traditional' name or one Porter created. 

The Autumnal Shade flies with slate-grey wings on still afternoons, just before dusk, free from the shackles of taxonomy.

Autumnal Shade (Exapate congelatella)

3 November 2014 - Eggs for December

December Moth eggs
Throughout the year the egg-cartons in the bottom of the trap have been checked (the inside and outside of the trap as well), just in case a moth has decided to lay a batch of eggs during its temporary confinement.  This has happened in the past and the responsibility then rests on Shandy Hall moth-trappers to either adopt the eggs and help them on their way or, try to remove them (not an easy task) and find a suitable place to put them in the garden.  The first course of action involves making sure the hatching larva are provided with the correct variety of food-plant.  Then care must be taken to see the caterpillars through to pupation or alternatively to release them in the garden.  The December Moth eggs shown above, won't hatch until April so I am in two minds - snip the section of egg-box with the eggs on and place it in a sheltered spot or wait until the eggs hatch and rear the caterpillars. 

December Moth (Poecilocampa populi)
Here is one of the adults - this the smaller male seen from the front and looking more and more like Toshiro Mifune.

December Moth (illustration)
December Moth larva (illustration)

The last drawing shows the caterpillar.  I've never seen one like that before so I think the decision will be to keep the eggs in a cool place and wait until Spring.

31 October 2014 - Wandering Migrant

Rusty Dot Pearl (Udea ferrugalis)
A new species for Shandy Hall as October comes to a close.  The Rusty Dot Pearl (Udea ferrugalis) has made an appearance at last.  A neat little jet-fighter of a moth that is not easy to photograph as its movements are rapid when disturbed. It was persuaded onto this autumnal setting and fortunately stayed put long enough.
The moth is a migrant and can be distinguished by the clear dark markings on the wings and its very white legs, which were clearly seen in the shadow of the egg-box in the bottom of the trap.  The scientific name refers to the iron-rust ground colour (ferrugo).  It is listed on the Flying Tonight site and seems to show up quite often in Yorkshire.  The image beneath is from the usual source and shows the markings accurately. 
The Rusty-dot Pearl (sometimes Rusty Dot, sometimes not) is species number 360. 

Still not a Sprawler to be seen despite the fact that it seems to be more frequently spotted than the Green Brindled Crescent and there are half a dozen of that species every night.  

Rusty-dot Pearl (illustration)

28 October 2014 - See You Again in the Spring

Pale Pinion (Lithophane socia)

The Pale Pinion was last seen in April.  If the 'search' facility on the website is used it can be seen that last Spring the moth was recorded under a different scientific name - Lithophane hepatica.  It seems to have been labelled anew as Lithophane socia.  Either way the example identified in Spring will have mated, laid eggs which will have hatched into larvae, the larvae will have pupated and the adult (the moth in the photograph above) will now feed and then find somewhere to hibernate - generally under loose bark.  It will take flight again next Spring.  Such a delicately tuned process.  The Pale Pinion is generally seen in the south of England but is increasing in the north.  

The photograph shows the thoracic and abdominal crests when viewed from the side.

Last night's species were: Feathered Thorn, Beaded Chestnut, November Moth, Red-green Carpet, Snout, Green Brindled Crescent, Dark Chestnut and the Pale Pinion.  Where is the Sprawler?


24 October 2014 - Yorkshire Moths Flying Last Night

Dark Chestnut (Conistra ligula)

Last night was warmer, the wind had dropped a little and there was good cloud cover. A thick pile of midges beneath the lamp and an extraordinary number of caddis flies - between thirty and forty in total - hiding somewhat malevolently on the underside of the egg cartons. A number of trembling insects on very long legs - barely able to balance until airborne - left the trap when the plastic cover was removed.  Flies with eyes like rubies and a couple of toffee-coloured ladybirds had also taken up temporary residence alongside the closed fans of lacewings.  And lots of moths.

Feathered Thorn (Colotois pennaria)

I thought there might be two species here but the spattering of chocolate coloured spots on the wings of the moth below were just there to confuse me.  The submarine shape of a caddis, one of those ruby-eyed flies and a Merveille du Jour are also included in the photograph.  The Feathered Thorn at rest.  This might have been the moth that was battering at the window pane last night and I couldn't identify it.  The colour and the size point in this direction.

Feathered Thorn (Colotois pennaria)

Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata) 

The Red-green Carpet comes in a variety of different intensities of colour.  The green is as rich a green as you will ever see when the moth is fresh (see below), but green is the fugitive colour in the moth world.  The moth above has not taken to the water, the dew is on the outside of the plastic cover and the moth was perched on the inside. 

Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata) 

December Moth (Poecilocampa populi)

On close inspection there is something of the samurai about this moth.  It is chunky and hairy and seems prepared more for fight than flight.  There were four in the trap and the species seems to be doing well in Coxwold.

Aethes smethmanniana (Yarrow Conch)

Bowen identified this moth in August, just before he left to return to UPenn and, as I hadn't seen it before, I thought it was a new one for the list.  I was looking forward to identifying it and marking it as new (it is so well marked that an error would be unlikely) but it was not to be.

Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta puta)

Another moth already recorded at Shandy Hall, but only once before this year.

Merveille du Jour (Dichonia aprilana)

Satellite (Eupsilia transversa)

The Merveille du Jour was as beautiful as ever and the Satellite particularly well marked.


Not sure which member of the Acleris family this is.  It could be laterana but then again it doesn't look brown enough.

Snout (Hypena proboscidalis)

This Snout should be second generation for this year but this one is not much smaller than usual.

Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa)

The Lunar Underwing is the last example from last night's trap.  The weather looks promising again on Saturday so a trap will be set in the quarry.  

The full list of species for last night has been recorded but the sample above shows how one night can be so different from another - the trap on Wednesday had one Red-line Quaker and that was all.