Saturday, 12 September 2015

Let there be light. But not treacle

For the first of my reports on this year's 3-night National Moth Night, I am perversely starting with a butterfly - this Speckled Wood happily basking in the sun which illuminated us for most of yesterday. This is deliberate because the emphasis being placed on rum-and-treacling and wine-ropes as moth lures by this year's Moth Night may be resulting in widespread disappointment.

I made my own concoctions with enthusiasm, as detailed in yesterday's post, but at the back of my mind were childhood memories of the famed 'sugaring' technique never really coming up with the goods. What happened here, where I beer-and-treacled about eight trees or shrubs, hung out wine and sugar-drenched muslin and ran the light trap? The score was Light trap: 250-odd moths.  All other lures: Nil.

Here's another of yesterday's butterflies to emphasise the point - a Comma enjoying the last few flowering fronds on our buddleia. I also saw Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, a Small Tortoiseshell and plenty of Whites, so even the butterflies beat the drink-and-sugaring 6-0.

It will be interesting to find out in due course how others fared, but I doubt that many without traps saw anything like the abundant harvest of the eggboxes here.  A second Red Underwing, rather more battered than the one which came earlier this week, was the biggest overnighter. Reading about this grand species in the Moth Bible, I noticed that the list of many habitats includes 'carr', a seldom-used word meaning waterlogged woodland. We certainly have that here in winter-time.Both forms of Burnished Brass were also present in strength, below, aurea with the brown band between the 'brass' unbroken and juncta, with it divided (the latter dozing beside another moth which appears to have overdone things at the nectar bar earlier in the evening).

A Canary-shouldered Thorn lent even more vivid colouring to the slumbering moths and it was also good to see a Snout, with its long palps doubled by their shadow,  and the neat if somewhat severe Autumnal Rustic, my first this year. They remind me of Confederate soldiers because of the soft grey.

Here's a Lunar Underwing, another handsome moth, and finally a couple of pics which I forgot to upload earlier this week, of an unexpected but adventurous caterpillar guest in the trap; one of many Large White catties which are more welcome in the eggboxes than they are on our Brussels sprouts.

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