I was just about to go to bed last night when I picked up a Tweet noting that the weather looked good for migrant moths. Warm air from Africa was due to wash across Southern Europe and into the SW UK. On the spur of the moment I decided to put out the trap. And what a prize for doing so, come the morning. Though not full of moths, the variety was fabulous and showed off what Autumn mothing is all about.
Best of the bunch was a small, largely innocuous looking moth that I only saw at the end of the emptying process. This was Oak Rustic (Dryobota labecula), a fairly rare migrant which, though establishing itself further along the south coast (40+ caught the other night in Dorset) is still very unusual in Devon.
For each of the last two years there has only been 1 record of this moth in the Devon Moth Record handbooks, with just 2 in 2015. Needless to say I was delighted to get this one, and in quite good condition – a first for me, of course.
Also a first for me, though not quite so uncommon was this Gem (Nycterosea obstipata). Small enough to be a pug of some sort, the black dots, surrounded in white, give this moth away.
Next up in the ‘new garden ticks’ was Satellite (Eupsilia transversa), so called because the kidney mark on each wing has two small ‘satellites’ around it. The marks can be orangey or white – here a mix, with the kidney mark and satellites different colours.
All three of the moths above were lifers for me – showing what a great night it was. However, there were still other interesting Autumn moths which, though not new to me, were welcome nonetheless. I love Merveille du Jour (Griposia aprilina) and even though this one was a bit washed out it was still a thrill to see it by the trap.
The next moth, Palpita vitrealis, (Olive-tree Pearl) is also a super moth, though for different reasons. It’s a migrant again, and where Merveille du Jour shouts ‘look at me’, P. vitrealis is almost ethereal, ghost like.
Its wings are transparent, edged with a subtle orangey-brown along the costal margin. They are reasonably catchable, but today’s haul of four together was a record for me by some way.
Also migratory is this Dark Sword Grass (Agrotis ipsilon), which I’ve caught before but never in such clean, well-marked condition. Where P. vitrealis is angelic, this one has something of the night about it; dark, jagged lines reminding me of bared teeth.
Finally, what would, on another occasion, perhaps merit a post of its own, this beautiful White-speck (Mythimna unipuncta) is a good find. Not a first – I’ve caught several in the last few weeks – but still a great moth.
In addition to these, five or six Rusty-dot Pearls and three Silver-Ys meant that this was a bumper Migrant Night. What Autumnal mothing is all about …