"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

More Moths - Carpet, Underwings and an Unusual Visitor

I held my weekly moth trapping session on Sunday night. The majority of moths caught were lbj's again. The number of large yellow underwings being caught is gradually creeping up and I caught my first straw underwings of the year.

Although I don't usually bother trying to identify the micros (I find the macros hard enough!) there are a few that are large and/or colourful enough to get my attention. I planted some mint earlier this year as the previous crop had died out in the hope of attracting some "mint moths" - these are really pretty, tiny micros, a purpley pink in colour with orange spots. I was rather chuffed, therefore, to spot one flying around the trap. As luck would have it the moth somehow escaped (why is it always the interesting moths that shoot out of the trap and disappear into the depths of the garden?). When I checked one of my moth id guides which features micros ("British Moths and Butterflies - a photographic guide" by Chris Manley and a great book) I discovered there is not just one mint moth but several! Pyrausta aurata or Pyrausta purpuralis seems most likely and hopefully I will trap another one and be able to confirm the exact species.

Here's a few heavily cropped record shots of some of the moths

Straw Underwing these have beautiful straw coloured hind wings with a brown border.Last year I trapped this species plus copper underwing and, of course various species of yellow underwing - it would be nice this year to trap a red underwing too.

Species of Carpet are very lively even after being chilled in the fridge and as soon as I opened the pot to photograph the moth it flew straight off. Luckily it only alighted in the ivy on a nearby wall. I was hoping for a more natural moth shot but light was low and its a poor record shot only.

Also, in the trap this week was an ichneumon wasp/fly - an unusual visitor. I am not sure what species of ichneumon it is but a possibility is Yellow Ophion. According to Collins Wild Guide on Insects this species is nocturnal, is parasitic on moth caterpillars and has similar colouration to the insect I caught. Apparently, if caught the female does not hesitate to use her ovipositor to defend herself so I'll be more careful if I trap another one!

Summary of Moth Trapping Session Sunday, 1st August
using Actinic 15w Skinner Trap
Minimum Temperature 13.3 degrees centigrade

1 x Willow Beauty
3 x Large Yellow Underwing
4 x Riband Wave
5 x Shuttle-shaped Dart
2 x Mottled Rustic
1 x Dark Arches
2 x Rustic
2 x Common Rustic
1 x Common Carapet
4 x Straw Underwing
1 x Marbled Beauty

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