As of March 2015, an official website for Surrey Moths has been set-up here. There you'll find information on everything to do with the Surrey Branch of Butterfly Conservation, including the updated events calender for 2015. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Not sloe but early

I've been thinking for some time that I must get out with a torch at night and look at our local blackthorn (sloe) bushes to see if I can find an early moth. The early moth is said to be common but it hasn't shown in my trap - until now! I was just turning my trap off at bed-time when a small Geometrid fluttered around my feet. I potted it and immediately wondered if it was an early. But I wasn't 100% sure as sloe carpet (which I've had a few times) is quite similar. On close inspection I was able to be certain it was early. a) the antennae were pectinate and b) there was a clear dark blotch on the centre of the hind-wings. The pattern and shape are also meant to be distinctive but that's not always easy to judge on a worn moth without a sloe carpet for comparison. The early is in fact quite similar in shape to a winter moth.

I also had a few other new for year moths, including an Agonopterix-type which I'm not sure of. I also had a twenty-plume moth indoors. So my year list is slowly building up. I always feel I'm making progress when my moth list passes my bird list for the year - but some way to go yet! A few photos below:

Agonopterix alstromeriana


early moth

Twin-spotted quaker (compare with Billy's three below)

Tortricodes alternella

Fabulous February

Since my last post, I've caught plenty more early spring gems...
On the 23rd, along with the regular seasoning of Common Quakers, March Moths and Hebrew Characters, I caught a welcome 3 Twin-spotted Quaker. The variation between them was interesting, especially an individual which hosted 7 spots on each wing, and not the usual 2! After looking in the 'Larger Moths of Surrey' atlas, Collins describes specimens with increased spotting as rare in Surrey...

The usual form...

On the 24th, I moved the 15w actinic to the other end of the garden, with a sheet behind it to reflect the light to all areas of the garden.

It paid off and I caught 4 new species for the garden; Small Brindled Beauty, Small Quaker and an individual of each Amblyptilia acanthadactyla and Agonopterix sp.- the latter of which to me looks very promisingly like A. scopariella- Only 6 sites appearing to be shown on the provisional micro distribution maps for Surrey. Photo send to CR for identification.

Small Brindled Beauty...

Small Quaker and Common Quaker (and to think I was previously afraid of how I would seperate the two species should I ever catch them!)...
Amblyptilia acanthadactyla

I'll post the outcome of the mystery micro, as well as a mystery Chestnut sp. that I'm also in the process of IDing, and a Clouded Drab that I haven't had to photograph, in due time... moth trapping is a busy process!

Friday, 25 February 2011

More early moths

This mild spell has clearly got the moths out - I've had one or two that I wouldn't normally expect to see in February.

small quaker

small brindled beauty

shoulder stripe

oak beauty

larva of large yellow underwing (Noctua pronuba)

common quaker

February Moths (Bill's stolen the best title!)

I have attempted to trap three times since the new year, but only got one moth in each. Luckily, one of those was a new species, and I also had a better night last night trapping 7 moths. A couple of weeks ago I managed a lovely Pale Brindled Beauty, and last night I got a March Moth, as well as a Dotted Border which is new for the garden.

24th February:
2 Common Quaker
2 Small Quaker
1 March Moth
1 Dotted Border
1 Hebrew Character
Dotted Border
March Moth

Pale Brindled Beauty

Sunday, 20 February 2011

March comes Early

Sorry, I know I can't compete with Sean's title puns, but I gave it my best try!

Over the last few weeks, I've trapped on the 12th and 18th, and although the chilly nights seem to have returned, it doesn't seem to be stopping hardy early species from being on the wing, and I've managed to add 3 species to the garden list.

March Moth- described as generally very common throughout Surrey. In an unusual posture...

Same moth, in its typical posture...

Early Moth- another common species, but a welcome sight...

Hebrew Character- Caught an individual of this early appearing noctuid on 12th, no doubt it will become much commoner as spring arrives!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

A Hardy Micro

I found the above Tortricodes alternella last night on a white sheet I suspend above the trap at this time of year. One of the earlier micro moths to appear, T. alternella is fairly common in Surrey, with the bulk of records coming from the North and West of the county according to the provisional distribution maps (2009).

Hanging a white sheet behind the trap seems to be a particularly effective way of maximising the catch during late winter and early spring, with many early Geometers prefering to land around the trap, as opposed to inside it.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

New Year, New Moths

Common Quaker...

Spring Usher...

Ypsolopha ustella...

So far here in NE Surrey, I've managed 3 species in the garden this year. All have been caught in the recent 'mild' spell that we have been experiencing in the last week, which has probably enticed this Common Quaker to take to the wing earlier than usual. Ypsolopha ustella and Spring Usher are both new species for the garden, and it will be interesting to see what else I can catch, as this will be the first time I've trapped in winter/early spring before.

I'm planning on building a funnel-type moth trap to replace my Skinner trap this coming weekend, which with any luck will perform better, and retain more moths. The more moths the better!