NFY and a Couple of Lifers

After a difficult couple of weeks it has been nice to get back to mothing. I’ve been interested in the different views of those with more experience in relation to the number of moths around. One would expect it to vary of course; each year will bring different patterns of weather and, with it, different moths. We had a very warm April which meant that many of the moths I got last year are a month or more earlier this year … but then a cold snap at the start of May which may have affected moths already hatched and on the wing. A Twitter post I saw this week referred to this period of the year at the ‘post-Orthosia lull’ and this seems appropriate to me. It’s a transition between the hardy moths of the cold end to winter and the more delicate ones that match the oncoming of spring and the fresh leaves and colours. However, this article in the Guardian today offers a less optimistic view, claiming that insect biomass is decreasingly rapidly and alarming in German forests. It brings credibility to the many moth-ers who seem to sense this decline in their trapping.

In my trap things are still quiet, but I’ve had some nice moths, including some lifers and those new to the garden. This Scorched Carpet satisfied both these criteria and is a cracking moth both from above and below.



Also a new moth was this one.


On first sight it seemed familiar. I had Lunar Marbled Brown on 9th April, along with Nut-tree Tussock … but this was not quite either of them – no ‘lunar’ crescent on the wing for the former and not so half-and-half brown and pale for the latter. A quick look at the field guide showed it to be Marbled Brown, a common moth in the south of England at least, but one I’d missed last year. The caterpillars feed on oak, so its presence is not unexpected given the large oak tree in the garden – a tree that supplies a good many of the moths in my garden I suspect. Given the antennae, I guess it’s a male.

After these lifers, there were a couple of others that were new for the year. This Green Carpet had me searching through Waring et al for a while. I had it twice last year, but this one was in the hedgerow in the valley below the house and the context meant that I didn’t remember it well. Again, it’s a beautiful moth and, once one sees the pattern in the wing markings, it’s quite distinctive.


Also NFY was this Pale Tussock

These are mad moths, with front legs making them look like some kind of demented Cossack Dancer! I just love them, and though I had them four times last year these sightings were all in a 13 day period in June (4th – 16th) – illustrating my point about many moths being earlier for me this year.

This is the case too for this new (for year) moth – Small Dusty Wave. It was caught on 11th May, with last year’s first catch not until 25th June. This does indeed seem like an early specimen.


Lastly, no NFY post would be complete without a show-stopper, which in the moth world must surely include the Hawkmoths. The first Poplar Hawkmoth came as a surprise to me, not least since the first one last year was also the same night as the Dusty Wave, June 25th. They appeared together on cue then, but a full 6 weeks earlier.

Once again, it’s a wonderful moth as the wing-detail shows. Surely, designed to be for anther world?

The only other things of note have been this lovely Lackey caterpillar seen on a walk on the coast path – not rare, but startlingly colourful.


… and this Diamondback moth – Plutella xylostella – which reminded me of the influx we had last year and raises the question of whether enough stayed to keep the population high this year.


So, as you can see, new moths are dribbling in with enough interest to keep my hopes up … but the decline, in general terms, seems real enough. I’ll set the trap again though.


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Exmouth resident; keen, slightly naive, birder; moth novice.

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