Posted August 1, 2015 by Senga Grave
Two moth traps were set out at Watchtree on 29th July, the second of the two moth-trapping sessions I do every month from March to October. This year’s moth trapping has been distinctly poor, low numbers of moths and far fewer species than one would expect in a “normal” year. The poor weather and less than ideal trapping conditions are probable causes. The traps weren’t exactly brimming with moths but there were a few nice species present. The most exciting moth was a single Dingy Shell, an uncommon species in Cumbria, and particularly in north Cumbria (Vice County 70) Only 3 were recorded in 2014. The caterpillars feed on Alder, an abundant tree at Watchtree. This small moth usually sits with its wings closed behind its back like a butterfly, and it is rare to get a chance see the upper surface of its wings. Luckily, this one co-operated after a brief rest in the fridge – a good way to get moths to settle for photographs!
2 photos of Dingy Shell
Several slightly more colourful species were also trapped, a stunning Magpie Moth, Garden Tiger and three beautiful Large Emeralds. Slightly less common were several Minor Shoulder-knots and a single Brown-line Bright Eye (not to be confused with the more common Bright-line Brown-eye!).
[Photos of Magpie, Garden Tiger, Large Emerald, Brown-line Bright Eye & Minor Shoulder-knot ]
A moth that is on the wing now, and often disturbed during the daytime from the scrubby grassland areas at Watchtree just now is the Shaded Broad-bar. Although common, this is a lovely moth when looked at close-up. The caterpillars feed on various clovers and vetches.
A tiny “micro” moth, Mompha propinquella, trapped earlier in the month, has turned out to be only the second record of this species in north Cumbria, the first record being in 2013. The caterpillars of this species feed on willowherbs, living in “mines” within the leaves. Apologies for the poor photo but this moth didn’t want to sit still for its photo!
Dr Liz Still