Saturday, 18 June 2016
Moth Post June 2016
It's not been a great year for moths so far. The cold, uncertain weather has meant numbers and species are down comparative to previous years. This is good news for a friend of mine, who is writing his dissertation on moths (looking at whether different species have different optimal flight heights) and is yet to start recording them, but not so great for the moths.
All lepidoptera are down. There have been few butterflies in the garden here. I'm up to ten species but have seen few individuals, and the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary recording project I'm part of in the New Forest this year has so far failed to record a single individual. It's all rather worrying, especially for those species that have relatively short flight seasons. But then Nature will always balance herself (if we get out of her way sufficiently to let her do so).
Here is the moth list for the photos, starting at top left and going clockwise. I've added info about each species, including when and where to see them and what you need to have nearby or in your garden to attract them food-plant wise. There is often a difference between the food plant (which refers to what the larvae or caterpillars need to survive) and the nectar source (which is what the adult moth needs).
First Photo Collection:
1. Elephant Hawk. Needs willowherbs (food plant) and honeysuckle (nectar source) so leave a few in your garden and you'll get these moths coming in as they have a wide distribution across England and Wales and fly from May to August).
2. White Ermine. These need nettle and dock to breed in and are found all round the UK, they fly May to July abnd are wizards at playing dead when disturbed.
3. Many Plumed and Friend. Technically listed as a micro moth, the Many Plumed feeds and breeds in honeysuckle, flies every month of the year and is widespread. We often get them coming in to the house in winter. They seem drawn to sit on the TV!).
4. Ingrailed Clay. Is on the wing in June-July in the south and July-August in the north and need a wide range of herbaceous and woody plants including primrose, violet, bramble, heather, sallow and hawthorn. Widespread so you'll more than likely have these in UK gardens).
Second Photo Collection:
1. Buff Tip. The master of camouflage, adapted to look exactly like a silver birch twig. When L was little he wouldn't believe me that these were moths, until one moved, so the camo really is perfect. These moths fly from late May to July and over-winter a pupa in an earth chamber the caterpillar makes underground. We dig them up sometimes and raise them indoors as you should never rebury a pupa because it will suffocate. They need sallow, birch, oak, hawthorn, rowan, beech, alder, lime, sycamore or elm and exist all round the UK where they are common so many UK gardens will have them if there are trees nearby.
2. Privet Hawkmoth. There are 1050 species of Hawkmoth worldwide with the majority of these large, impressive moths found in the tropics. We have nine resident species here in the UK and eight others who come in as migrants. The Privet has one generation which flies June-July and requires privet, ash, lilac or guelder rose. It has also been reported on snowberry and honeysuckle. This is also a widespread species and if you want to see one you can try shining a torch on a white sheet in the garden- we had one visit this way last year.
Third Photo set:
1 Cinnabar. Flies mid May to early August and the foodplant is ragwort, which makes the larvae toxic and safe from birds.
2. Treble Lines. May to early July, this moths likes knapweeds, greater plantain and dandelion and is widespread through the UK. It comes to light so try the torch trick :o)
3. Elephawk Hawk.
4. Poplar Hawkmoth. May to August, common across the UK and the larvae feed on poplars, aspen, goat and grey willow.
Fourth Photo Set.
1. Nematopogon swammerdamella. What a mouthful for a moth who only measures a few mm in length! One of 15 UK species of Longhorn moth, this little fellow is common all round the UK and breeds on dead leaves on the ground.
3. Buff Tip.
4. Spectacle. Possibly the most aptly named moth ever, this is another moth who needs nettles to breed. It nectars on flowers (red valerian and sage are favourites) and is common throughout most of the UK.
Fifth photo set.
1. Orange Footman. On the wing late May to June and overwinters as a pupae in a cocoon among lichens. Tends to live among mature oaks, blackthorn and beech. Evidence suggests they've recently started breeding in gardens. Since the 1990s has extended its range across the UK upt. o Yorks and Lancs.
2. Pale Tussock. Flies May to June and needs a wide variety of broadleaved trees and shrubs, including hops which gives it its country name of Hop Dog. Frequent in gardens up to Cumbria.
Sixth photo set.
1. Silver Ground Carpet. Flies mid-May to late July and feeds on herbaceous plants including goose grass. Common throughout the UK.
2. Peppered Moth. Early May to late August, requires trees to breed and is found all round the UK. A rarer melanistic (black) form was once ubiquitous when pollution was as its height. It was used to demonstrate Darwin's theory of evolution as a response to coal-dust darkening conditions.
Hope you've enjoyed those and that the info was useful.
Hope all are well?