Our sixth Moth Spotting event in Quarry Wood, trying to learn what moths are around in different months.
We’ve done April, May, June, July, and October over the last few years, and the numbers of different species have been significantly higher in summer months. So we had great hopes for our August trap… it had been a blistering summer, the sunshine consistent, jumpers left in the back of the wardrobe and laundry drying in a few hours. (The Quarry Wood pond vanishing into the distance, you can’t have everything.)
But we’d had to cancel our Dragonfly and Butterfly Walk at the end of July, the only wet and windy weekend for months; and, worryingly, our late August Sunday morning appointment for moth spotting was forecast to be a bit cooler and breezier than we’d seen for a while… and rain was looming.
Undeterred, we set up the trap on the Saturday night and the weather truly was pretty mild and easy. As we switched on the light at dusk, the hum of the generator soon became a low purr and we stood still to watch moths gradually begin to find their way to the light bulb lure – a beacon in the centre of the Viking Camp. Some went straight in, come circled for a while or rested on the white ground sheet. A magical sight.
We saw several Brimstone Moths approach and dance around the Camp, and plenty of other fast flying Lepidoptera that we couldn’t lay eyes on for long enough to identify. Then a hornet buzzed around us briefly before being drawn to the trap; it scrabbled to escape, much more determined than the moths, but could not make it up the slippery sides of the funnel. We’d have extracted it if we could have, but in the name of science, we left it to its own devices.
Later that night, the temperature dropped. It was not one of the glorious summer nights of 2018.
Sunday morning. A bit cool. A bit grey.
The first job is always to make sure the generator is off and to plug up the top of the trap to keep what is inside inside. Sometimes, this is the moment when you see evidence of the hoard – moths dotted on the top of the dome, sprinkled around the sheet and sleeping on every visible nook and cranny of the egg boxes. Not so on this occasion. We knew the haul would be modest.
As Ralph began to pull out the cardboard craters, close inspection revealed some twenty-five or thirty-odd sleepy moths, eleven different species identified. The Brimstone, the Rosy Footman and The Rustic were familiar, the others new to us, bringing the confirmed number of unique species to 120.
We’ll have to do a September event next year to help build the month-by-month picture, but maybe we could manage to re-do earlier months as well to see what else flutters into the drum depending on the weather.
Honestly, when we first started the spotting events, we never guessed we’d identify so many different moths in our tiny little nature reserve. 120 different species… what a lepidoptery revelation! Stay tuned for more Quarry Wood moth monitoring.
Click here for the full moth species list , and below are the links for the pics from previous events…
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