Monday, 29 September 2014

Autumn Moths

Two posts in quick succession because I have a really busy week ahead and don't know when I'll have a chance to post these moths otherwise.

The box was out last night and, because the nights are relatively mild at the moment, the moths were out in numbers with 123 in the box. There has been a shift over the past month towards autumnal species, which is what you would expect given that October is knocking on our door. Autumn moths come in a range of burnt umbers, pale yellows and deep oranges to match the falling leaves, or else they are dark and Gothic.

We are also inundated with hornets. These moth killers excellently designed predators are attracted to light and believe it or not they also fly at night. There are usually two or three in the box in the morning and they are responsible for the miserable butchery I find inside. They will rip the wings and heads off moths, tearing them apart as if they are made of paper. Hornets are dozy first thing so they are easy enough to remove, but they are powerful and violent creatures when fully awake. 

Luckily, there were only a handful of deceased moths to sort out this morning as well as two more-perky-than-I'd-have-liked hornets (Poppy thought it would be fun to pick one up as it crawled across the patio- luckily she dropped it when I yelled at her and no stinging occured); the other moths were all safely asleep inside the egg boxes with a few dozing on nearby leaves.....

Angle Shades

Black Rustic

Blood Vein

Brindled Green

Brindled Green

Burnished Brass

Frosted Orange
Frosted Orange

Lunar Underwing

Maiden's Blush

Oak Hook-tip

Pink Barred Sallow

Another Pink Barred Sallow

Pyrausta Aurata (a small micro moth)

Common Wainscot

The aptly-named Yellow Tail
The four new visitors amongst those brings my 2014 moth tally up to 284 different species. Last year it was 311 and time is now getting tight to match that. I was confident at the start of the year that we would, largely because I didn't start trapping till June last year and this year I started in February. The summer months are obviously boom time for moth numbers and species and I can think of a handful of species that turned up last year that haven't this, but even so, I'm surprised I haven't yet exceeded last year's total. 

I've had a much better year butterfly-wise. Last year I noted down 24 species and this year I have seen 36. I have gone out actively seeking them, which has helped, and I've been doing surveys too. I've also had expert help from Dave who has a wealth of knowledge about species ID, and I've seen new species at home that weren't here last year (skippers, small copper, purple emp). This is possibly because of changes we've made to habitat, but maybe also because I'm more aware of them so I notice them.

My 2014 butterfly species list (seen out and about as well as at home) consists of: 

Red admiral
White Admiral
Small tortoiseshell
Orange tip
Speckled wood

Large white
Small white
Marbled white
Green veined white
Common blue
Small blue
Holly blue
Chalkhill blue
Adonis blue
Brown argus 
Green hairstreak
Brown hairstreak 
Small copper
Grizzled skipper
Dingy skipper
Large skipper
Small skipper
Silver spotted skipper
Essex skipper
Small heath
Meadow brown
Dark green fritillary
Silver washed fritillary
Purple Emperor
Painted lady
Clouded yellow

There are about fifty eight British butterfly species, some of whom you can only see in specific sites in Scotland and in coastal areas, so I reckon I've done quite well with 36.

Right, I'm off to put some polish on an assignment. Wishing you all a peaceful and productive day,

CT :o)


  1. I was wondering when you were going to get the moth box out again. I meant to say in my last comment that a couple of weeks ago, Olly spotted a Devil's Coachorse beetle scuttle across the living room floor. We caught it and spent quite a long time observing it before we released it into the garden. It was quite fabulous.
    Leanne xx

    1. I saw one this summer after Poppy pointed it out to me- I love the way they posture with their tails. Fantastic creatures. It's so nice that Olly's so interested and you can share that fascination together xx

  2. Like Leanne, I had wondered when you would be mothing again! It was good to see these, they are beautiful colours aren't they. Those hornets sound horrible, I hope that they don't cause too much destruction for the rest of the mothing season. Good luck with the assignment. xx

    1. Autumn moths are some of the most beautifully marked of all the moths, I love seeing them. I get so upset every time I see that the hornets have been in the box :o( xx

  3. Great selection of moths they have the most lovely shades of Autumn, realy like the Frosted Orange moth. Looking at your numbers and the weather we have had this year, I am surprised you saw more last year.
    Your Butterfly list is so good too..
    Having a Opp next week so I am planing to go through all my records and make lots of lists ! All those jobs you never seem to get done .
    Hope you have time to post what you are up to at collage we are all interested ...
    Amanda xxx

    1. The Frosted Orange is a beautiful moth- easily rivals butterflies in the prettiness stakes. I'm not sure why moth species numbers are down- I do wonder whether the very wet conditions in Feb affected them.
      Hope the op goes well and isn't anything too serious and that you get through all your records. Will look forward to seeing the results, your photos are always so good xx

  4. Fantastic butterfly count, it's been a brilliant year for them too. The Yellow Tail and the Burnished Brass moths are just amazing.

    1. Yellow tails don't always flash their tails so I was pleased when he did. The colour on the Burnished Brass is lovely - it glitters in sunlight.

  5. A great selection of moths - just love the Frosted Orange - I've never trapped one here. Can empathise with the hornet problem - I had a similar situation yesterday only with wasps :( I don't normally get a problem but think I may stop trapping for a few days.

    A great butterfly count for the year especially the PE :)

    1. We had six Frosted Os in the box, so I could pop one in the post to you :o)

      We've hardly had any wasps here this year but the hornets have been excessive. Like you, I stopped trapping for a couple of weeks because I couldn't bear them attacking the moths.

      How does your moth count compare with last year at the mo? Am wondering if it's just me or if individual species numbers are down everywhere?

  6. So beautiful, thank you for sharing. I would never have realised there were so many different types and how stunning they are :)

    1. Thank you, Chickpea. Yes, moths are a varied bunch. With over 2500 UK species to chose from they come in a variety of colours and patterns to suit everyone :o)

  7. Interesting to know about the hornets for when I (eventually) get a moth trap! I see them here flying at dusk but as long as I don't bother them, they don't bother me although I am petrified of getting stung by one. Shame they get in and kill the moths though. :-(
    You've a lovely selection here and have done very well with your butterfly count for the year! I haven't totted mine up yet.

    1. They are a right old pain in the whatsit in moth traps, but not otherwise here.
      Be interested to know what you butterfly list and count is for the year.


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