"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, 30 August 2011

Confusing Noctuids

Its that time of year again when the moth trap seems to contain mainly lbj's of the moth world - many worn - making identification difficult for someone like me who struggles at the best of times!

Just to break the monotony there were a couple of Willow Beauties. My Large Yellow Underwing catch is really down so far this year with just five last Saturday.

Here's a couple of moths I am still struggling with

Firstly, is this a strange looking Straw Underwing or something entirely different?

I really haven't a clue on this one!

There were four of these in the trap - I think they are Square-spot Rustic

There were 2 Copper Underwings - see photos below. Of course, there are two very similar Copper Underwings - one the usual one and then Svensson's Copper Underwing! According to various blogs and forums I gather that the palp theory and the underside of hindwing colouration are no longer considered a reliable way of separating the species. The best way is to study the projections. In Copper Underwing they are usually all of the same length whereas in Svensson's Copper the 2 nearest the abdomen are obviously longer and more pointed. Using this I am pretty sure I have trapped just the normal Copper Underwing. The last photo shows the underside of the moth where you can get a glimpse of the beautiful copper colour of the underwing.

Summary of Moths Trapped Saturday, 27th August

8.30 until dawn. Minimum temperature 10.2 degrees centigrade
15w Actinic Skinner Trap

Willow Beauty x 2
Large Yellow Underwing x 5
Flounced Rustic x 5
Straw Underwing x 1
Copper Underwing x 2

Square-spot Rustic x 4?
plus the 2 uindentified moths above and half a dozen very worn noctuids that I didn't even attempt to id.

There was a young willow warbler passing through the garden yesterday and today a pair spent 10 or so minutes foraging for insects around the garden and pond. I love this time of year when anything can show up in the garden - we have had several visits from spotted flycatchers on migration in the past and one off visits from Redstart and Pied Flycatcher. So its worth keeping an eye out as something unusual could well turn up.

To finish off (and to brighten up the post) a couple of photos of garden sweetpeas - one of my favourite flowers.

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