The New And Improved Robinson Moth Box arrived as promised on Tues (thank you Jon at ALS), and of course I had to put it out that night. Weather conditions were pretty much perfect for moths: warm, overcast, not much in the way of a breeze, so I was expecting great things.
The Robinson runs a 125w Mercury Vapour system which means the light is way brighter than my 15w Actinic Skinner. It also has a different design- essentially it's a tub shape with a plastic cone hood that has a circular hole at the top which the bulb is suspended above. The moths are attracted to the light, fly down through the hole and settle on and underneath the egg boxes which are placed inside the trap so they have somewhere to rest and hide. It works similarly to a lobster trap in that once the moths are in it, the design makes it difficult for them to get out until they are released. The Skinner in comparison is basically an open-topped four-sided wooden box with two sloping perspex sheets as a roof and a 3cm ish wide gap where they meet, so the more resourceful moth has no problem finding his or her way out.
|The Robinson Moth Box full of moths|
The best position for the Skinner in terms of moth yield proved to be on the patio near the flowers, so that's where we put the Rob. It Was Very Bright Indeed to the point I semi-blinded myself looking at the bulb and could see multiple moth boxes every time I blinked for about three hours afterwards. Teddy had to have his night time wee in the front garden away from it because it was either that or put sun glasses on him.
L, who tends to roll his eyes at the merest mention of moths (unlike F who is almost as interested in them as I am) examined the new set up with a critical eye.
"If moths sleep during the day then why do they want to be near light at night? Wouldn't it be more sensible for them just to be awake during the day when the sun's up?"
The mother half of me was impressed with this simple but to the point and well reasoned question, the adult squirmed because I couldn't answer him. So I looked it up and was relieved to discover there is no consensus answer. The general understanding is that the Moon is used for navigation purposes to orientate flight, not as something to actively try and reach.
I got up at 6.30 and bounced downstairs to discover the patio, the side wall of the house, the greenhouse (inside and out) and the moth box crammed full of moths. I counted over 250, which was just slightly up from my usual nightly haul of 25. It took me 12 hours to process them all.
This moth trapping lark is turning out to be a full time occupation.
There were 39 new species (probably more- I didn't get all the micros and there are still a couple of the larger moths I have yet to ID). This takes my Total Of New Moths since I started Mothing in Mid June up to 144.
Here are a selection of my favourites. As usual, if you spot a glaring error, please let me know....
|Common Emerald (For Jessica at Rusty Duck)|
|Small Angle Shades. A Very Busy Little Moth Indeed, even when fridged for a few hours he was still zooming about.|
|Angle Shades (been wanting one of these for ages- why has this gone green??)|
|Blue Bordered Carpet|
|Beautiful Hook Tip (this was a new species for me and there were lots of them both in and outside the box so it must be their time of year)|
|Bird's Wing (never seen one of these before so very excited to get one)|
|Single Dotted Wave|
|Common Footman (love this little moth and had long wanted to see one so very glad he turned up)|
|Common Marbled Carpet|
|"I can see you with my Big Green Eyes"|
|Poplar Hawk (3 of these in the box). The Big Daddy of Moth World|
|Burnished Brass (really glimmers golden in the light which doesn't come out so well in this pic)|
|Fan Foot (this one is a male- they have hairy legs!)|
|Mother Of Pearl (beautiful, been wanting to see one for ages)|
|Peach Blossom Moth (yay! another one I'd been wanting to see for a while)|
|Riband Wave. There are two types, this one with the dotty lines, and the one below, with a block strip of colour|
|Riband Wave II|
|Rosy Footman (another one I'd been wanting for ages)|
|Spectacle Moth. You can see why. I absolutely love these little moths.|
|Swallow Tail. Gorgeous. Keep an eye out for these on your windows as they like to sleep on them during the day.|
|Now this moth flumoxes me. I've had one before and incorrectly labelled it as a red twin spot or large carpet. The closest I got after hours of pouring through books and the internet yesterday was a Tissue or possibly some kind of Umber. I think I'm going to post it on the Garden Moth Challenge Blog and hope someone there will know what it is, unless Caroline or David have any thoughts here? NB- Matt at the above blog has now ID'd this one for me. It is in fact a Mottled Beauty ab.conversaria, which I would never have found if I looked for a million years! Thanks Matt.|
|The Uncertain (31 of these in the box. It must be their time too!)|
|Common White Wave|
|Coronet (they have a slightly green tinge which is very handsome)|
|Green Pug (the photo makes him look huge but in fact pugs are tiny moths- about 15mm)|
|Small Blood Vein|
|I loved these two Lobster Moths sitting quietly side by side on the wall. When the sun grew hotter and moved over them they toddled off into the shade. They have furry legs and I find them rather adorable.|
I am more confident handling moths now. You develop a knack and learn how to move around them and handle them so they don't get harmed. I now bring the box inside and shut all the doors before opening it, because with the best will in the world, a number of them are busy people who escape the second you open the lid. The ones who don't fly off are quite happy sleeping in the box until night fall and so now I tend to leave them there (if I know what they are I don't need to disturb them by moving them and they are safe from birds and protected from heat in the house). When night comes I put the box outside and off they go when they are ready.
The ones who have escaped inside tend to land on windows, the ceiling, tables, photographs, L's box of beanos, me (I accidentally took one with me out walking in the woods with Teddy earlier this week. He had a nice car journey and came home again too), so I can usually collect them with a pot and a piece of paper fairly easily, get their photo, make my record and release them into the flower bed where the birds can't get at them. Having said that, there were a few yesterday who I couldn't find but I knew they were in the house so last night once darkness fell I went into the breakfast room and discovered them all buzzing around by the door. I put the outside light on, opened the door and off they went.
A couple of non-moth-related things to finish with.
Firstly, Ma has asked me me to say a big THANK YOU to all of you who left kind get well soon messages after P's accident. He is now home and hobbling about on crutches, and your lovely messages cheered them both in what has been a difficult week.
Secondly, I had some good news yesterday- my college application has been accepted and I start the BSc in Ecology and Conservation Management this autumn, so it's full steam ahead. I am VERY pleased, VERY relieved and VERY excited!