Monday, 9 June 2014

More Magical Moths and Albert Has Leaves! (Tree Following Post)

The Moth Box was out last night and despite a few pattery rain showers passing through yielded good results this morning. 11 new species takes my total for 2014 to 148, which makes me think we are likely to beat last year's of a little over 300 (but then I did start around this time last year rather than in Jan). I haven't counted up how many individual moths there were in the box but it looks to be around 150.

A few of you wanted to know what the Moth Box looks like, so I took some snaps to show you. Mine is a Robinson Mercury Vapour Trap, not cheap, but it has been worth every penny. The moths are safe inside and it's retention rate is good.

Inside, we fill it with egg boxes to give the moths somewhere to rest and shelter
The plastic sleeve has a hole in the top where the bulb goes and there are gaps around it to allow the moths to get inside the box.

This is the whole thing set up.
This is my funky new waterproof cover for the electrics. Sweet and simple and not expensive and it works :-)

Here it is all done up.

And here's what it looks like in the morning....egg boxes full of moths of varying shapes, sizes and colours...

The homemade cardboard lid I use to close the box off with is also invariably covered with small flying people when I come to remove it later...

There are always a number of escapees when you take the lid off. You just have to work Quickly to note them all down, but invariably you miss some. It's usually when it gets dark and they start to wake up and come out of their hidey places that I realise there were lots of interesting moths I didn't see! 

Here's Who Was In The Box Today....

Beautiful Golden Y- a moth that flies during daylight too, so you may see him around in your garden or on the edge of woods

Buff Arches. Last year, I was desperate to see this amazingly patterned moth and I'm ashamed to say that we got so many in the end that I got rather bored of them. However, it was lovely to see this one in the box this morning. The first Buff Arches of 2014! (and I expect there will be plenty more).

Buff Arches

Clouded Silver (we've had this one before, so remember it because it may feature in the next quiz!)

Common White Wave

Our Old Favourite, the Elephant Hawk Moth. Tip for remembering: think Pink Elephants :-)

Ele Hawk

Green Arches. New for the year and for the garden. A beautiful moth. Green moths fade very quickly when exposed to light. Food plants for these are docks, honeysuckle and bramble- a great many moths rely on plants we have come to consider weeds, so if you can leave a wild patch in your garden they will really thank you for it. And as moths are food for bats, you may find you gets bats coming into your garden too.

The large and furry but very chilled out Lobster Moth

The Miller. New for the year :-)

Purple Clay. Never seen one of these before.

Small Magpie (hint for the quiz)

Small Rivulet. This is an interesting little moth. It has only one generation, flying June- August and is a small version of the Rivulet, which comes out a wee bit earlier but not much. Its larval foodplant is Common Hemp Nettle, but it will feed on Hedge Woundwort which is closely related to Hemp Nettle if there's no hemp present. Hedge Woundwort is another plant too often considered to be a weed in gardens, but if you look closely at the flowers they are like small orchids so really very pretty.

Small Seraphim (right) and what I suspect is Adela Cupella, a type of Longhorn moth with the most enormous feelers!

Tawny-Barred Angle

Thistle Ermine. Feeds on thistles and has recently been found in Ireland, so it looks to be extending its range. The small ermines are responsible for the hedges covered in spun silk that look like spiders have been very busy at them that you see in late summer and autumn. The thistles flowers are just starting to come out in our garden so I'm fairly sure he's a thistle ermine, rather than one of the other ermines.

A Good Moth Night on the whole, although I am awaiting the arrival of the Emeralds with baited breath...

Before emptying the moth box this morning, the dogs and I took a walk through the fields to visit Albert, the Pendunculate Oak I am following for the year. For this I am linking up with Lucy at Loose and Leafy (see side bar for her blog).
Albert is a single oak standing in a hedgerow on an ancient field system close to the Abbey of Mottisfont, just up from a mixed Broad Leafed ancient woodland which has a few conifers tacked on. He's Quite Elderly- probably over two hundred years- and for a time we were worried he wasn't going to come into leaf at all. However, about a month ago the leaves started to come and now he's in Full Flood and looking Very Handsome.

Oaks are very important trees in terms of biodiversity, supporting over 400 different species. Some, such as the Purple Emporer butterfly, rely on it entirely and are unable to live elsewhere. Many moths also use Oaks (Merveille Du Jour springs to mind, but there are others) and of course bats nest in them as well.

Here is Albert, Looking Marvellous....

This is him on the right, just up the path from Ted and Pops

And this little 6-spot Ladybird was wandering through the grasses at his feet (if oak trees can be said to have feet?)

Some sad news here this morning- when we got back from seeing Albert, I found one of the baby blue tits lying dead on the ground by the kitchen window. He/ she had flown into it. Poor little thing was still warm...

All the others are well, thank goodness. Still demanding food from their parents, despite the fact they are perfectly capable of feeding themselves, as this next shot proves...

Three Blue Tit Babies

The Collar Dove pair are around and getting less nervous....shhhhh...

And the Nuthatches are still to and fro from the feeders every hour. No sign of kids though.....

We've also got a nesting pair of Starlings in one of the trees by the lake. They brought THREE ENORMOUS children with them into the garden a couple of days back, only they all flew off before I got the picture :-( VERY pleased they are breeding here as starling numbers are in drastic decline nationally :-)

I've finally Id'd the Newt- it is a Smooth (or Common). Only seen one so far, but hopefully more will come. I spend hours sitting on a tree stump beside the pond peering into the water while Poppy sits beside me and every now and then licks my leg....

I'll leave you with this Rather Adorable Speckled-Bush Cricket who was sitting on M's potatoes for ages yesterday. He was Very Amenable to photos. I found two more of them in the front veg  patch, so this is obviously Speckled Bush Cricket time of the year. They emerge as nymphs in May and moult into their adult form during the summer. Males sing to the females by rubbing their wings together but the sound is so high-pitched human ears can't detect it. You've probably got them in your garden as they are widespread and like perching on things during the summer....

Bit Gorgeous, no?

Have a great Monday all,

CT :-)


  1. I think that the one that I am going to remember most likely from this post is the pink elephant! It is great to see how the moth box works, I wasn't really sure at all. Do you give them any feed at all? xx

    1. So you've five sorted the end of the year you'll be quoting a hundred no problems :-)
      I don't feed them- many adults moths don't eat anything, they live to mate and breed. I don't run the trap every night to allow those that do feed to have nights when they can x

  2. Great post again and I just love albert, I've got a thing about trees.

    1. Me too, Briony. I'd miss trees terribly if we didn't have them all round us. So many different sorts and all so beautiful x

  3. Lovely pictures again,
    i wonder what it's like to live on one of the Scottish Islands with No Trees? Don't think I would like it

    1. I wouldn't like it either- too bare. Trees give us so much, don't they? :-)

  4. Lovely post, a shame about the baby blue tit. A bird flew into a window this morning but I couldn't see any sign of it so all must have been well! The starling population isn't declining here I live. If we put fat balls out we have about 20 descend on the feeder. So much so they have trampled on my small onion patch.

    1. It's the time of year for fledglings learning about windows the hard way I fear :-( Glad yours was OK.
      Very pleased to hear about your starlings- this is the first we've seen in 8 years here. Although I should imagine it is Quite Annoying when they squash your onions :-)

  5. That's an impressive looking moth box CT and I do enjoy seeing all your moths - a great selection as always.

    Albert is looking rather splendid and love the cricket photo :)

    1. Doing well on the old moth front here. The weather has been good for it.
      We went to visit Albert again today- he is a lovely old tree :-)

  6. Love both those Arches. A great haul again CT. Very impressed with that electric safety box thingy too.....I could do with one. My mum's extension lead stopped working last week and when I opened up the plug, I found someone had just would some 30 amp fuse wire around the fuse holder in what should have been a 13 amp plug. Terrifying. Your oak is beautiful. I wish I'd got involved in the tree thing but it's a bit late now. Never mind. xxx

    1. The Arches are a splendid set of moths, striking looking. The electrics cover came from ebay and cost around 12 quid. So far so good, and it has been out in rain and everything stayed dry. Next year for the trees...I'll bet you'll be able to find some fab ones up on Dartmoor xx ps- haven't forgotten the Poppy pic, just crazy busy here at mo.

  7. I do love these posts! They've become one of my favourite reads. And thanks for showing the moth box. When I told friends recently that I'd love to get when, they gave me that I may have to live vicariously through yours a little while longer.
    Leanne xx

    1. So pleased you're enjoying all the moths. Everyone I know who has a moth box says it's just like Christmas morning every time you open it up..even the old boys who've been mothing for years! x

  8. I always imagine your moth box would be larger. It's amazing how many moths you catch! Albert is looking stunning, there is nothing like English oak trees! Sarah x

    1. Believe it or not, on a really warm, humid July night it's not uncommon to get between 500-1000 individual moths in a Robinson. The most I've had is around 300, which is plenty, when they're all flying off and you're frantically trying to write them all down :-)
      I love Albert too- as you say, there is something special about English Oaks (especially the pedunculates, for me anyway) x

  9. Trapping moths with such a professional set up is a must for you. With some wonderful results. I found a dead Ermine Moth on the roll-up door of the greenhouse last week. I am wondering now could it have been be on its hols from Ireland?! I shall have to go and see what the differences are.

  10. Wales and Ireland do have different species quite often from the rest of the UK. Mountains being a barrier perhaps? :-)

  11. So many moths! It will be interesting to know what kind of insects you find in your tree. Oaks are reputed to be so rich in them they are almost like tower blocks for wild life.

    I can't remember if you know of this little video about moth traps.

    1. Oaks are such great places for insects. I just need to find some time to spend with Albert and see what is there...

      Thanks for the vid link, will check it out.

  12. Great to see your moth box in situ!! And such a great selection of moths again, the Ele Hawk is impressive isn't it??and the Small Magpie is pretty.
    Albert is marvellous, I just love oak trees, but then my surname is Oakey, so I guess I would!!!
    Starlings are daily visiters our garden, noisy devils they are too!!!

    1. The Ele Hawk is certainly a stunner- a good ambassador for the World Of Moths :-)
      I have a huge affection for Oaks as well. Love the fact you have a tree-related surname- how cool is that?
      Word has obviously gone round that our garden has decent amounts of grub in it- yesterday, there were more starlings visiting than before.... x


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x