"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, 13 August 2010

Moths (Swift, Kitten, Snout and Underwings) and Cupcakes

I have been running my moth trap for a year now - have just checked my records and my very first trapping session was on 10th August, 2009. I honestly think it is one of the best purchases I have ever made as its provided hours of fun and absorbing moth study. I find moths absolutely fascinating and whenever you open the trap its exciting as you never know what you may have trapped and, although it is often the usual lbj's, there is always the hope of a hawkmoth or other attractive species.

I trapped quite a few new species for the garden last Sunday including a beautiful but worn sallow kitten and an orange swift - another attractive moth. I also caught a species of Snout - this was far too lively to attempt a photograph but with the shape of its wings and snout type "nose" it looked like a miniature Concorde. Finally managed to trap and identify a mint moth - Pyrausta purpularis(sorry for lack of italics for scientific name but I can't seem to get the italic feature to work). This has the gold markings on the wings split into three whereas P. aurata has just one gold mark. Tiny moths but very pretty. Lesser Broad-bordered yellow underwing, copper underwing, straw dot and light brown apple moth were all new species for this year.

A few photos below - all record shots only. Had to use the flash for these and they are as usual heavily cropped.

First, another picture of a common carpet very worn and ragged perhaps it had escaped an encounter with a bird intent on a moth meal.

Common Rustic - a typical lbj

Copper Underwing - its a pity I couldn't capture the beautiful copper coloured underwing.

One of several yellow underwing species - this is a Large Yellow. Again in flight when it shows the yellow underwing with black border it is transformed into a very pretty moth.

This is the Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Pyrausta purpularis

I am pretty sure this is the dark form of Orange Swift. Swifts according to Waring et al have short antennae and do not feed as adults.

Two photos of Sallow Kitten - a really pretty moth - afraid the photos don't do it justice. It looks quite docile in these photos as I had chilled it in the fridge for a few hours. This does not hurt the moths and half an hour after the photo was taken I had released it in the garden and it flew off quite happily.

Straw Dot

Straw Underwing - this species has pale straw yellow underwings with a brown border

And this week's mystery moth - haven't a clue! The hindwings were straw coloured.

Please feel free to correct any misidentifications - although my id skills are improving its a slow process!

Summary of Moths trapped on Sunday, 8th August

9.00 - Dawn Minimum temperature 10.8 degrees centigrade

Actinic 15w Skinner Trap

1 x Orange Swift
1 x Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
1 x Knot Grass
1 x Willow Beauty
2 x Large Yellow Underwing
3 x Straw Underwing
1 x Button Snout ?
1 x Common Carpet
1 x Lime-speck Pug
1 x Copper Underwing
9 x Shuttle-shaped Dart
1 x Riband Wave
1 x Marbled Beauty
1 x Straw Dot
1 x Sallow Kitten

1 x Pyrausta purpularis
1 x Light Brown Apple Moth

Total number of species trapped in garden 2009/10 = 89
Total number of species trapped in garden this year = 71
Total number of moths trapped this year = 371

And now for something entirely different - photo below of the results of the Cupcake Masterclass Course I attended Wednesday evening. I love cooking especially baking but prior to this course my cake decorating skills were zero. The course demonstrated several different ways of icing so I shall no longer be slathering on the icing when I bake cakes but will be creating swirls and stars with my icing bag!


The Wessex Reiver said...

Who needs moths when cupcakes are available :-) do you ever trap moths during the winter?

Ragged Robin said...

I didn't bother trapping in the depths of last winter - I fear the trap would have disappeared under the snow some weeks! Having said that I think some people do trap all year. Last autumn I finished trapping on 2nd October having caught about 5 moths that night. I started again this year on 5th February (on reflection that probably is still winter!). I trapped weekly but didn't catch any moths until 21st March when I trapped 2 common quakers. I was only catching a few moths each week until 21st May when the number of species and number of individual moths suddenly shot up.

My family would definitely concur that cupcakes are preferable to moths :D

Hope you had some luck with the perseids last night - it looks cloudy again here tonight but hopefully we might get clearer night skies over the weekend.