Friday, 5 September 2014

Sallow Season Starts....

Firstly, a Quick Update on yesterday's post. I have had confirmation from the Hants flutterby recorder that the Brown Hairstreak we saw is the first confirmed record for this part of Hampshire, which is very exciting. It doesn't mean there aren't more of them about- they may simply be under-recorded - so what is required now is for someone to go out and survey their larval foodplant of Blackthorn for eggs over the winter.

I wonder who they'll persuade to do that......

In the meantime, the Moth Box was out last night and I am happy to report that the Sallows have started to arrive, which is a sure sign of the swing of summer into autumn. I love these moths- they come in a range of ochres, oranges, yellows and umbers to match the falling leaves.

The first one to arrive is this centre-barred sallow who was perched inside one of the egg boxes....

Atethmia centrago
The life story of the centre-barred sallow is rather endearing. They lay eggs in small batches on a twig or in a bark crevice and remain as an egg over the winter. The larva hatch in spring and live inside the unopened bud for a while, before hiding in a tree crevice or at the base of the tree during the day. Just before dusk they climb the tree very rapidly to feed during the night, when they are safer from predators. They construct an underground cocoon in which to pupate. Their larval food plant is Ash, so they are very common all round the UK and live in gardens, so you probably have these little moths in your garden if you live in the UK and have some Ash nearby. The adult moth flies in one generation from August to September and they are attracted to light.

This has got me thinking what a disaster Ash die back disease poses to the survival of this species of moth. Everything is inter-connected in nature: nothing operates in isolation, which is why we need to make sure we look after everything.

Similarly coloured but not related is the Frosted Orange, one of my all-time favourite moths. They are starting to appear in ones and twos now as their flight season is late August to October...

Gortyna flavago
This moth also over winters as an egg and the larvae feed inside the lower part of a stem where it also pupates, head upwards. They need thistles, burdock and foxglove for the larvae to survive and it's imperative these plants are not cut down in the autumn because the eggs will be inside them waiting for spring. Frosted Oranges are also common and widespread. I think they are stunning looking moths and have been very glad to see them again this year.

Another orange moth who appeared in the garden this morning and was discovered sitting on some jasmine is this lovely Bordered Beauty...

Epione repandaria
It's coming towards the end of its flight season now (September). It also over winters as an egg, requiring willow, alder and hazel for its larvae.

Continuing the golden theme, the Burnished Brass is yet another moth which always makes me gasp when I see it.....

Diachrysia chrysitis

This is a second generation adult, of the form f.juncta Tutt  (because the central cross-band is broken into two blotches). In the other variety (f. aurea Huene) the cross-band is entire. This moth overwinters as a larva hiding near the ground among vegetation and its larval food plants are usually common nettle. Again this is a wide-spread moth and it will likely be in or near many UK gardens.

Three species of the UK's eight Hook-tips came to visit this morning. The first is the uniquely-shaped among moths Scalloped Hook-tip....

Falcaria lacertinaria
This is also a second-generation adult and they too are coming to the end of their flight season which is usually late August. These moths overwinter as pupas inside a cocoon in a folded leaf and they like Birch trees.

The other two are variations on a theme, with significant numbers of the first - Oak Hook-tip - appearing over the course of the last few days....

Watsonalla binaria
These are also into their second generation and are on the wing until mid September. They overwinter as a pupa in a cocoon inside a tightly wrapped-up oak leaf and they are also common all round the UK.

Easily mistaken for the Oak Hook-tip is this Barred Hook-tip....

Watsonalla cultraria
The main differences between the two is the size (although the Barred is only 1-2mm smaller than the Oak), the cross-band which is darker on the Barred, and also the number of dots on the wing. The Oak has two on each, while the Barred only has one and there are no dots on the hind (lower) wing of the Barred either. You should be able to see these in the pics, hopefully?

Barred Hook-tips also overwinter in a cocoon spun inside a curled beech leaf, or they sometimes spin two leaves together for the same purpose.

The Maiden's Blush (below) has to be one of the pretties-named moths in existence. It lives out the winter as a pupa attached to a fallen oak leaf which sounds a little dangerous to me, and although they are widespread they remain most numerous in a band across the country following pockets of ancient woodland.
I have just checked in my moth bible and the second generation (which this is) can have large blotches present while the reddish flush of the first generation can be absent, as it is in the ones I have recorded today.
Cyclophora punctaria
Spectacle moths have made a reappearance over the last few days. They overwinter as pupa formed in plant debris and the larvae needs nettles.....

Arbrostola tripartita
Also making a comeback in large numbers is the Brimstone. There is debate among moth experts as to whether they have two or three generations and depending on when they hatch they either overwinter as a larva or in a pupa. They like Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Plum and Bullace (a kind or wild plum often confused with Sloe). They are widespread and keen on table legs, if the ones in our house are anything to go by....

Opisthograptis luteolata

Another visitor who has stepped up in numbers this week and is also into its second generation (August to early September) is the Green Carpet moth. When newly emerged, the green is strong, but all the adults I've seen recently have been quite faded. They feed on bedstraws and cleavers and are widespread around the UK. The second generation used to be a partial one in the South but now it is annual, which suggests the moth is doing well. It overwinters as a larva and pupates in a cocoon in loose earth....

Colostygia pectinataria
 Blood Veins are fairly ubiquitous here and I do find them hiding under leaves during the day as well as in the moth box. They are also into their second generation and may even have a third one from mid-Sept to Oct, depending on how the weather has been. They feed on docks and knotgrass and overwinter as pupas.....

Timandra comae
Finally, Copper Underwings are also turning up, although these moths are single generation and fly from late July to early October. This is only about the second or third I've seen this year for all that. It could just as easily be a Svensson's Copper Underwing- they are virtually impossible to tell apart without checking the underwing (which I didn't). They overwinter as an egg and they like broad-leaved trees and shrubs. He refused to flash his skirts I'm afraid, so I've only got a pic of the top to show you, as well as a face-on....

Amphipyra pyramidea

'Who are you looking at?'
Hope you've enjoyed all of those. My total of species for the year is edging close to 300 now. I need to beat last year's of 311!

I'll leave you with a pic of the Frosted Orange and the Centre-Barred Sallow having a Moth Chat...

 Have a Great Evening All,

CT :-)


  1. When I see these things fluttering around at night it's difficult to imagine how beautiful they are. Thank you for letting me see their beauty :)

    1. They do suffer from an image problem being night-time folk. In daylight their colours are as pretty as those of butterflies, sometimes more so x

  2. These autumn ones certainly seem to have amazing colours that really are just right for the time of year don't they!! xx

    1. Evolution in action :-) They get furrier as the year goes on as well- Chocolate Tip moths fly all winter and they have a thick fur coat to keep them warm :-) xx

  3. I've been brave and made it to the end of this post. Admittedly I'm not lingering on the photos, but I have to congratulate you on knowing your Mothy stuff!!

    1. Ah Rachel, I am proud of you! Well done :-)

  4. Great news about the Brown Hairstreak - have been hoping to go to Grafton Wood in Worcs where there's a colony but just haven't had time.

    A wonderful selection of moths - a lot of those I don't trap here although have had several Copper Underwing and Brimstone recently. The rest are mainly Yellow Underwing species, Flounced and Square-spot Rustics - gets boring after a while!!

    1. Those are broadly the species we get here in large numbers too- I must admit this time round I ignored most of the Underwings and Rustics for that reason! It does get monotonous :-)

  5. Oh you make me want to go into the garage and rumage through the many house moving boxes to find my wildlife books. Great collection of moths, we have quite a few bumping into the windows at night now which keeps the cats entertained.

    1. It won't be long before you're in your new abode, happily surrounded by all your wildlife tomes :-) I shall be very happy for you, because I know how much I would miss mine.


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