I know I said I was going to wait until next year to get a moth trap, but during my break from chemo whilst feeling a lot better, and seeing what Amanda from The Quiet Walker blog was catching with her recently purchased trap which is the same one I was thinking about, I thought 'oh what the hell, I'm getting one now!'. And so I spent the last day of my break (last Weds) photographing and learning a lot about moths.
It's taken me this long to sort through the photos (not helped by the chemo getting its own back on me for daring to take a break) - I brought about 45 moths indoors to look at/photograph so had several hundred photos! I left many smaller ones and drab ones sheltering in the egg boxes in the potting shed and encouraged them out at dusk. There must have been about 100 moths which really surprised me. The most numerous moths were what I think are Common and Scarce Footman, but I didn't get a photo of either as they flew off as soon as I tried to take a pic! But being shallow ;-) I was far more interested in the big and/or colourful moths.....
I'll be adding a second post with my unidentified or not sure moth pictures in the hope you guys can help me with ID, and I have a few questions too.
This first time I put the trap here near the potting shed where I could run electricity out and the veg patch with all the flowers in is behind where I am standing taking the picture. There are no trees particularly close and the next time I'm going to put it under trees in a different place to see if I get some different moths.
This trap is the Skinner trap with twin 30w Actinic bulbs which cost me £213 total including a moth book and some specimen boxes and tubes for putting the moths in, and P&P to France was £25, which I thought was pretty reasonable, given it's £12.50 within the UK. I bought it from Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies.
After photographing the moths I put them into a big plastic box with a mesh lid, which is the one I used for my pupating Swallowtails, and at dusk we went around the garden putting the moths outside. A number escaped into the living room whilst photographing them, so we spent a couple of days catching them and putting them out!
Not surprisingly, there were moths on the outside of the box and in the grass all around it too.
This was the biggest excitement and a moth I have longed to see for years - an Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor). There were two of them in the box and now I just have the larva to see. I'm not giving info about each individual moth but if you click on the link it will take you to an info page.
And another hawkmoth! At first I thought this was a Poplar Hawkmoth but then I saw the eyes. This is an Eyed Hawkmoth (Smerinthus ocellata) and you can see why in the first photo. The third photo is the mesh on top of the large box where I put them after photographing - I was trying for some better photos of the hawkmoths outside but the light was too dull and they were flapping their wings a lot. I love the curvy abdomen.
It took me a while to ID this one which is quite a large moth but not as large as the Oak Eggar which follows this one. It doesn't appear in either of my books but eventually I realised it was probably part of the Lasiocampidae family, so googled that - et voila, up came my moth. It's a Plum Lappet (Odonestis pruni) and I love its hairy legs.
I met this moth last year as it flew inside my house but I mistakenly identified it as a Grass Eggar (I blame the photos on google.....). It's a female Oak Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus) and she's really quite a big girl. I've met the male outside and they fly during the day but the females fly at night - yet I guess they find each other somehow.... :-)
This was another squeal with excitement moth as I've wanted to see a Buff Tip (Phalera bucephala) for ages, as I've found their caterpillars here several times. They are one of the most gorgeous moths and so well camouflaged when on a tree, as they look like little twig stubs. There were four of them in the trap and they were the most laid back of moths, never flapping, never moving, not remotely bothered when I opened up their wings like in the photo below. In fact at dusk they had to really be encouraged to budge!
A smaller moth but very pretty, this is a Rosy Footman (Miltochrista miniata). I was fascinated to read that their larvae feed on lichen on trees, which I hadn't heard of before.
This one foiled me for a while; if it had opened its wings up I might have guessed the family. When I did find out what it was, I wasn't too surprised as I've seen similar red legs and the hairy reddish underneath before when I found a Garden Tiger in my veg patch. This is a Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa) and it's unusual because tiger moths are usually very colourful and showy. But sometimes you have to look beyond the wings for the colourful, showy bits.
The only really green moth which I trapped is a continental species, the Orache Moth (Trachea atriplicis). Some of the larval foodplants are weeds in my veg patch.
Another one with a hint of green - in fact this was one of my favourite moths which I hadn't met before. I love its green furry top and stripey socks! It took me a while to ID this one as so many pictures in books are just looking down on the wings, rather than seeing them from different angles. It's a Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe).
This is an Oak Hook-tip (Watsonalla binaria).
First time I've seen a Buff Ermine (Spilarctia luteum) although I am familiar with various Ermine moths of the white variety. It's really rather beautiful!
I got the ID for this from Amanda's posts so it's either a Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) or a Dark Dagger (Acronicta tridens). Apparently you have to examine their genitalia to tell the difference, although on the UK Moths site it looks like the Dark Dagger has circular spots mid forewing which this one doesn't, which doesn't make a lot of sense. I've seen the larvae of both species in the garden.
This one I may have identified from Ragged Robin's posts but I can't remember! I believe it's a Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria).
I believe this is a Poplar Grey (Acronicta megacephala).
I'd heard the Yellow Tail (Euproctis similis) moth played dead and it does that very well! It ought to be careful when lying on the floor though as I found one that was actually very much alive and I could have thrown it in the rubbish bin or out the window if I hadn't been interested to look at it closer - luckily for it I had already looked at the one in the moth box the day before so I was aware of what it did. However it's possible this is a Brown Tail (Euproctis chrysorrhoea) but I think I also had one with a more yellow tail in the trap.... it's easy to get confused!
I've seen this Peppered moth (Biston betularia) on various blog posts and was aware of it anyway because of its amazing evolution, where a darker form evolved to camouflage itself on soot darkened tree trunks during the industrial revolution - you can read more about it on the link above. However it's good to see the light form as you know you live in a clean environment where the moth can camouflage itself on lighter coloured tree bark covered in lichens (not surprising here in the countryside really)!
Last but not least, a Silver Y moth (Autographa gamma), which are (sometimes) seen during the day nectaring, so I have photographed them before many times.
I also had two Jersey Tiger moths (Euplagia quadripunctaria) in the trap, but as I see them during the day and have taken tons of photos of them over the years, I didn't bother!
Next post will contain the not sure about moths which is shorter than this post, you'll be glad to know! Also if I've got my IDs wrong please tell me. I've enjoyed trying to ID moths myself as you learn so much more that way, but it can be very time consuming.