Moth Diaries ep.10

I promise something a little different for the weekend but with this influx of warm weather the moths just keep on coming and if I don’t post these Moth Diaries regularly I’ll be found drowning beneath a sea of new characters that will likely never see the light of day on this blog. Caring is sharing and the more I learn about these fascinating insects and their lives in the hidden realms of night and deepest dark, the more I want to share and open up this often inaccessible world to all of you.

In the last episode, just four days ago, I had reached 128 species for the year, for the garden. The total now stands at 143 and it could have been a lot more; when I opened the trap on the 18th of June to find over 150 lively moths (not including escapees) it took almost a full day out of the weekend to pot them up, identify them, record them, badly photograph them and finally release them. Overwhelmed to the point of distraction (at one point I even considered giving up and releasing them without recording), I took two nights off. I’ve only trapped once since then and thankfully the temperatures cooled (briefly, for the night) and so I managed to ease myself back in. It looks set to be 21-24 degrees overnight tonight and I suspect by the time I’ve checked the trap tomorrow morning the list will have increased considerably, hence I’m getting this update in early so not to be left with a ten page post featuring hundreds of moths (and another minor breakdown). So, here’s the best from the last couple of days….Enjoy.

The ‘Fan-foot’. Earlier in the year we met the ‘Small Fan-foot’, this is its larger relative. Common over much of the Southern part of Britain, becoming less so further North the adults fly in June and July. The Larvae feed on the withered leaves of a number or trees and shrubs.
The ‘Beautiful Hook-tip’. One of many Hook-tips so-called for the distinctive notched outer edge forming a ‘hook’ shape. Fairly frequent but not common in Leicestershire and across Southern Britain, the adults fly from June to August whilst the overwintering larvae feed on lichens which grow on the bark of a variety of deciduous and coniferous trees. My own photograph is below.
A Beautiful Hook-tip of my own, one of two for the first time this year.
Hypsopygia glaucinalis or the Double-striped Tabby, this Micro moth is larger than some of the Macros. Relatively common locally in the Southern half of England, though numbers appear to be decreasing. The Larvae feed on thatch or hay, or in other kinds of dry vegetable matter, such as birds’ nests. These habits are similar to those of the rarer ‘Large Tabby’ featured in an earlier episode (which I was lucky enough to trap). The decline in both is thought to be due to the reduction in old farm buildings and practices. The adults are on the wing in July and August, making this one yet another early arrival.
This sizeable but dainty moth was my first of the ‘Emerald Moths’ this year. This is ‘Light Emerald’, so-called for the mint-pea green which is in contrast to the vast majority of the UK Emeralds which are darker or more vibrant in form. Fairly common throughout Britain The adults fly from June to August, often with a partial second generation in the South, appearing in August and September. The Larvae feed on the leaves of a number of deciduous trees.
I was uncertain about this one, genuinely, but that’s fine because this moth has an uncertain name; ‘Uncertain’. Local in Scotland and Ireland but fairly common across England and Wales the adult is on the wing June – August sometimes with a later second brood. The Larvae feed on low-lying plants such as Dock and Plantain.
If I was uncertain about Uncertain then I was uncertain about this ‘Rustic’ too. The two species are difficult to separate at the best of times but later in the season after some wear and tear it can be nigh on impossible. To make things harder still, the Rustic shares the same distribution as Uncertain and flies from June to August, sometimes there is a second generation in the south in October, much like the Uncertain. The Larvae feed on the same foodplants too.
This is Marbled Beauty and a real beauty it is too. The intricate patterning on this moth is made all the more mesmerising when you consider it’s diminutive size too; It’s one of our smallest Macro moths (though individuals vary greatly in size). Common across Britain, the adults fly in July and August. The Larvae feed on Lichens, especially rock-growing species. My own Marbled Beauty is photographed below.
My Marbled Beauty creeping towards my marbled work-surface.
Ancylis achatana or the Triangle-marked Roller is another Micro moth species which seems to be expanding its range. It is common locally in southern England, ranging northwards to Yorkshire where it has become more widespread in recent years. Flying in June and July, the Larvae feed on the leaves of Hawthorn, Blackthorn and less often Cotoneasters.
Another Ancylis achatana.
Scythropia crataegella or the Hawthorn Moth. I’m pretty pleased with this photograph, given this Micro is around just 6mm in length. On the wing in June and July this moth is Fairly common in the southern half of Britain but not occurring north of Yorkshire. I like to think it’s appearance in my garden is a direct result of Hawthorn I planted in early Spring. The larvae feed communally in a silken web spun on Hawthorn after initially mining the leaves.
Another tiny Micro Moth, but look at this for a bit of pizzazz! Ptycholoma lecheana or the Brindled Twist is quite a distinctive species with a dark brownish ground colour, variously suffused with yellowish scales and patches of metallic silver. Flying in June and July but only fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland, The larvae feed inside the rolled leaves of a variety of trees and shrubs.
Another Micro, though quite a large one, Hypsopygia costalis or the Gold Triangle is a fantastic looking little beast. This beautiful little moth has several distinctly different resting postures. In one, the moth adopts a ‘triangular’ shape, with the hindwings hidden by the forewings. At full rest, all four wings are splayed out and the tip of the abdomen is tilted upward (see below for variations). Common at least in the southern half of Britain, the adults usually fly in July and August (early again!). The Larvae feed on dry vegetable matter, such as haystacks and thatch.
Gold Triangle again.
And Again.
Another good looking Micro; Ditula angustiorana or the Red-barred Tortrix. Common throughout much of Britain, adults are on the wing in June and July. The larva is polyphagous on many plants, including Yew and Rhododendron – species that otherwise have few predators. It sometimes does superficial damage to ripening fruits in orchards.
Red-barred Tortrix again.
Another grass moth joined the growing collection, this time Crambus Pascuella or the Inlaid Grass-veneer. These Micro moths are becoming increasingly common as summer rolls on, perhaps thanks to the large patch of grass meadow kept specifically for invertebrates in my garden. Flying June to August, the Larvae feed within roots of various grasses, living within a silken tube or tent.
Crambus Pascuella this time the right way up.
Best of the bunch though is definitely this ‘Burnished Brass’. My photograph doesn’t really do it justice; those lime streaks are pearly iridescent and shimmer like glass in the light. Common across most of the British Isles, the species is double-brooded, with moths on the wing between June and September. I’ve been waiting for this one too, as it’s one of my real favourites; a bit of a knee-rub moment for me when I found it nestled amongst the pebbles beside the trap this morning. The Larvae feed on a diet of common nettle and other waste-ground wild plants.


For a full list of all the species to visit my garden this year (I try to keep it as up-to-date as possible) please click here: Garden Moth Species List

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