"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

Friday, 20 August 2010

Moths and Mumruffins

The only new species for the garden from last Sunday's moth trapping session was a pretty micro moth called a Chequered Fruit-tree tortrix. Numbers of the dreaded yellow underwings are slowly beginning to increase and Lesser Yellow Underwing was new for this year. I caught another orange swift - this time a male and in brighter orange colours. No photo though as he was very worn and I let him go straightaway.

Here's a photo of the moth trap ready for action. I usually put the trap on the patio but one warm humid evening I will try and place it further up the garden on the second lawn as more species seem to be attracted to that area including a great many shield bugs.

Cropped photo of Chequered Fruit-tree tortrix (there are several tortrix species that look very similar so I hope my id is correct!).

Small Square-spot (cropped)

I also found a black sexton burying beetle (Nicrophorus humator) in the bottom of the trap. This is one of the species of beetles that bury small mammal and bird corpses and lay their eggs on the dead animal so that the larvae have plenty of food when they hatch. Gruesome!!!

This is a photo of one bumbling over the carpet that I caught in April. I let last week's beetle go as it kept falling on its back in the collecting pot and, apart from it looking very undignified, I felt quite sorry for it.

Summary of Moth Catch

Sunday, 15th August
9.00p.m. until dawn
Minimum Temperature 11.3 degrees centigrade
Actinic 15w Skinner Light Trap


Flame Shoulder x 2
Large Yellow Underwing x 5
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing x 4
Lesser Yellow Underwing x 1 New for Year
Small Square-spot x 1
Willow Beauty x 2
Shuttle-shaped Dart x 4
Dark Arches x 1
Marbled Beauty x 4
Straw Underwing x 1
Copper Underwing x 1
Orange Swift x 1
Common Carpet x 1


Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix x 1 New For Garden

Garden Update

Have had lots of visits this week from a party of six or more mumruffins or long-tailed tits. Mumruffin is one of many regional names for long-tailed tits and I think it is a great word for these pretty, cute, little birds looking like pink, white and black cotton wool balls with constantly twitching long tails. The mumruffins are with a mixed flock of blue, great and coal tits and they are all a joy to watch as they flit to and fro between the trees and shrubs and feeders. Apart from these delightful visitors bird numbers are slowly starting to drop. I did see a fledgling wood pigeon today accompanied by its parents as it shuffled around the lawn. I have been keeping my eyes peeled for any unusual visitors passing through on migration - no luck so far.

I spotted a hornet in the garden on Monday but when I realised it was becoming as interested in me as I was in it, I beat a hasty retreat! The buddleia flowers have failed to attract any red admirals or peacocks although we are still seeing plenty of large and small whites, gatekeepers, holly blues and speckled woods. I have noticed a real lack of dragon or damselflies in the garden this year. In the past we have seen several a week but this year I have only seen two dragonflies and they had both flown off before I could get outside to try and identify them.

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