Moth Diaries ep.9

Now, I know it’s only been a week since the last moth diaries (and you are probably all getting very bored) but, as I warned with the onset up summer, the moths are arriving thick and fast. 28 new species have made the garden a food stop since a week ago, including 2 County rarities, taking my garden total to 128 species for the year so far. Again, many of the pictures below are stock images unless otherwise stated and the information is kept to a minimum so that it doesn’t drag on…Enjoy!

The Silver-ground Carpet, Common throughout, flies May-July and the Larvae feed on low plants such as Bedstraws
The Mottled Rustic, scarce in Scotland and Ireland but common elsewhere, flies June-August and the Larvae feed on Nettle, Dandelion and a range of herbaceous plants
Crambus lathoniellus or the Hook-streak Grass-veneer, a Micro Moth common throughout Britain and one of many ‘Grass moths’. Flies May-August with the larvae feeding on a range of grass stems.
The Common White Wave is an elegant, fairy-like moth common throughout Britain. It occupies woodland, copses and similar habitats, on the wing from May – August in two generations, the Larvae feed on deciduous trees, mainly Birch.
The Elephant in the room and resting gently on my finger, it is of course the Elephant Hawk-moth. This little gem is one of our more common Hawk-moths and can be found in Hedgerows, gardens, woodland edges and heathland, and on rough grassland and sand-dunes. Practically anywhere! It is a real feast for the eyes. Flying from May-July the Larvae feed on Rosebay Willowherb and Bedstraws. The large body is also vibrant pink on the underside.
Epinotia bilunana or the Crescent Bell is a fairly common Micro Moth throughout Britain and wherever Birch is present. On the wing in June and July the Larvae feed on the catkins of Birch throughout the Winter.
The Flame, very common except in the extreme north, flies June-July with an occasional second generation in the autumn. The Larvae feed on low growing herbaceous plants such as Dock and Bedstraw. The Flame has a habit of rolling it’s wings to disguise itself as a twig during the day, as the photograph below shows.
A Flame in disguise.
The Phoenix is a beautifully marked moth. It is found throughout most of the British Isles but is not particularly common anywhere, although at least one has found my garden. usually flies from July-August so this one was early. The Larvae feed on the leaves of Red and Black Currant.

The Coronet (photos below) appears in two distinct varieties, a grey-scale or the mossy green as below. I was thankful for the mossy green; what a stunning moth! It’s also a local rarity, though increasing year on year in numbers, so it’s a good record to have. The habitat preferences are woodland, commons, downland and marshy places, and the flight period is during June and July. The Larvae feed on Ash and Privet.

The green theme continues with this new arrival too. Despite it’s relatively large size, the Tortrix viridana or Green Oak Tortrix is a Micro Moth. It is a very common Moth, on the wing from May to July, Inhabiting Oak woodland, it can become a pest. Although Oak is the main food plant, other deciduous trees are also used, the larvae feeding in a rolled-up or folded leaf. These abundant larvae sometimes completely defoliate trees. Curiously, the same day this moth hit my trap, it was also recorded for the first time this year by other Leicester Mothers, including the County Recorder, Adrian Russell, who caught a total of 34 in one night despite usually only catching single figures each year. There is very little Oak in mine or Adrian’s vicinity, suggesting some kind of local movement or a switch to a new food-plant.
Cousin to the Heart and Dart, this recent arrival is the Heart and Club. Unlike the Heart and Dart (which has been filling my trap in droves), this moth is distributed mainly in the south and south-east of England. whilst it is common in places, it has a scattered distribution elsewhere. It is frequent but not common in Leicestershire and Rutland. Flying in June-July the Larvae feed on growing leaves and roots of knot-grass and clover.
Meet the ‘Setaceous Hebrew Character’. You might remember the ‘Hebrew Character’ from my March Moth Diaries but this is an altogether different moth, although sharing the Black Arch pattern which gives both moths their name. Like the Hebrew Character, the Setaceous version is very common too. Small numbers appear in May and July with far more on the wing in August and September. In the North there is just a single generation, flying July-August. The Larvae feed on Nettle.
You met ‘Dark Arches’ in episode 8, well now we meet ‘Light Arches’. Flying June-August it’s a fairly common Moth. The Larvae feed on the roots and stems of a range of grasses.
A fairly nondescript Micro moth, there’s should be little to say about Blastobasis lacticolella but that’s not the case. Originally not a British species, this moth was accidentally introduced with fruit and vegetables and appears to be established and expanding its range. Uncommon but increasing in Leicestershire, the Larvae feed, strangely, on a mix of mosses, dead insects, detritus, decaying vegetable matter and also on seedpods of Tree Lupin and Tans; no wonder it’s thriving.
Another Micro moth, Udea Olivalis or the Oliver Pearl flies in June and July and is common across the UK. The Larvae feed on a range of herbaceous plants.
Another common Micro moth and one of the so-called ‘Greys’ which I seem to be getting in large numbers now. This is Eudonia lacustrata or Little Grey. Not common but fairly frequent across the UK, they fly mainly in July and August with the Larvae feeding on mosses.
Eudonia mercurella
More common is the more intricately patterned Eudonia mercurella or Small Grey, which has also arrive in the trap. Another moss feeder, the adults fly from June-September.
Next in, another common Micro, Agapeta hamana or Common Yellow Conch. On the wing June-August, the Larvae feed on Thistle.
I found this Common Footman lurking in my trap this morning. A smooth-scaled alien looking moth, it is on the wing usually from July to August. The Larvae feed on lichens, which makes grave yards a particularly favourable habitat.
A stunning moth and one of my favourites, the Swallow-tailed moth is actually fairly common, but being strictly nocturnal and having quite a short emergence period from late June and throughout July, it is not often encountered by the non-enthusiast. The first two of the year (the one (poorly) photographed above included) were found in my trap this very morning. The larvae feed on a range of trees but have a preference for Ivy.
Despite the joy of finding the Swallow-tailed moths, I was also a little gutted this morning. When I checked the trap prior to bed last night, a stunning Lime Hawk-moth has found its way in, however by morning it appears to have found it’s way out again meaning I was left a little bereft and without the standard ‘look how big this Hawk-moth is on my hand’ photo-shot. The picture above shows the beauty, but not the scale. Occupying suburbia it flies in May and June and is fairly common in the southern half of the Country, including Leicestershire. Famously common in London, owing to an array of still tree-line streets and avenues, in recent years its distribution has spread northwards and is now regularly found well into north Yorkshire and beyond. The Larvae feed on Lime but also Birch, Alder and Elm.
Notocelia uddmanniana Or the Bramble Shoot Moth is another common Micro that found it’s way into my trap during the night. Easily recognised by the chocolate blotch on the forewings, this little moth is on the wing in June and July. The Larvae feed on, you guessed it, Bramble.
The fairly nondescript Pale Mottled Willow was another overnight visitor. A fairly common species throughout, the adults usually fly between July and September. The caterpillars live on the grain of various cereal crops, including those that have been harvested.
In with another Micro, this time Notocelia trimaculana or the Triple-blotched Bell. Common wherever the larval foodplant, Hawthorn, is found, the adults fly in June and July.
It wouldn’t be Moth Diaries without the introduction of yet another new Pug moth. This time it’s the turn of the Grey Pug. What is there to say? It’s a Pug and it’s grey. It flies in May and June and sometimes again in August. The larvae eat the leaves and flowers of a number of herbaceous plants.
Another Micro and another ‘grass’ moth. This time Chrysoteuchia culmella or the Garden Grass-veneer. Flying in June and July it is probably Britains most common grass moth. The larvae feed on the base of a number of grasses and grass stems.
Last, but certainly not least is Gypsonoma oppressana or the Poplar Shoot. You might think that you’ve seen me post this moth before, especially being as there are many of these ‘bird dropping’ type Micro Moths. I definitely haven’t though, as this is a real local rarity, with only two other recent records for the whole of Leicestershire and Rutland. Not that I knew it, as I emptied out the trap this morning, setting it aside as just another Micro moth ‘to be ID’d’. Flying in June and July it is a relatively local species, occurring sporadically throughout England and is classed nationally as ‘scarce’. The larvae feed on Poplar leaves as the name would suggest. Despite the beauty of many of the moths above, it seems this minuscule moth is easily the best catch of the day, and one of the most important records I’ve had to date.

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