Saturday, 20 August 2011

Friday, the Night

Friday night was moth night. It was billed as "50 Mighty Moths", it was always going to be a tall order, especially when the evening cleared to a fabulously starry night, just what you don't want, moths like a dense blanket of low cloud to keep in the warmth. Possibly the highlight was a moth I found on the shed wall in the afternoon and potted up to look at later, a magnificent red underwing and yes they do have red underwings, you just can't see them in this picture.
We had six moth light running at various points around the reserve and on trees beside the paths we put out "Moth gloop" the sugar mixture that some species will come to feed at. There was much doubt about the gloop in some quarters, but more of that later. We first emptied Thursday night's catch ands so stared with sixteen species and the red underwing, thirty-three to go. One of the more attractive species to arrive quite early in the evening was the brown china mark, the larvae of which feed on water plants in ponds.

An autumn species that has just started to appear in the trap recently is the flounced rustic
not the most colourful species but quite attractive for all that.

One or two species turned up in some numbers, common carpet certainly lived up to the name and there were good numbers of sharp-angled peacock, pictured below.

Despite the doubts the gloop did produce some slight result, just two moths, but ones that we did not see at the lights, a copper underwing and best of all an old lady moth. Both these species are not attracted to lights very much but do like sugar. The sugar did attract a lot of other creatures though including earwigs, harvestmen, and woodlice. We also saw lots of slugs, snails, millipedes and ground beetles heading up the tree trunks. The lights also brought in a variety of other things as well, including mayflies, caddis flies, midges, parasitic wasps and bugs like the forest bug below.

Two light traps were run all night and produced the following species, in no particular order:

common carpet, green carpet, riband wave, small fan-footed wave, common wave, common white wave, light emerald, canary-shouldered thorn, sharp-angled peacock, small phoenix, straw dot, snout, pinion-streaked snout, mother of pearl, black arches, poplar hawk, square spot rustic, large yellow underwing, vine's rustic, shuttle shaped dart, flame shoulder, dunbar, lesser swallow prominent, pale prominent, spectacle, flounced rustic, dingy footman, rosy footman and nine species of micro moths, making 37 in all. Several species were seen only in the evening and not caught in the traps, including the old lady, copper underwing, iron prominent, lesser treble bar and another three species of micros, making 44. If I add in those that we saw as well let Thursday's catch go we gain setaceous hebrew character, common rustic and white-point, making 47, then we have the red underwing, to make 48. Unless I have forgotten some that would seem to be it, so we came up two short, actually not at all bad on a cool night.

We did also have several bats including pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, Daubenton's bat, possibly a serotine and a tantalising brief detection way up in the 90+hz range.

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