Moth trap

I still have problems with my left leg, and can’t do any walking at the moment – very frustrating!

However, to help cheer myself up  and keep me occupied, I have bought a moth trap. I have been vaguely interested in moths for two or three years, ever since learning that they had such intriguing names as Setaceous Hebrew Character and The Uncertain.

The trap is basically a bright light above a box with a perspex roof. The moths are attracted to the light, and drop throgh a hole in the perspex and largely fail to get out. I run the trap overnight, getting up early to collect any moths outside the trap before the birds find them, then photograph the moths and try to identify them. I release the moths when it gets dark again.

So far I’ve run the trap twice, setting it up overnight here in my parent’s back garden (probably a good location, with many mature gardens around and several mature trees about, plus open fields nearby). You can see how I’ve got on on this thread on the Wild About Britain web site:  (I’m grateful to the people on that site who help me so much with my identifications).

The results from my first night’s trapping were very encouraging, with no less than 34 species of moth found (27 of which I’d never seen before):

Setaceous Hebrew Character x10+
Brimstone x2
Riband Wave x3
Orange Swift x3
Blood-vein x1
Willow Beauty x2
Mother of Pearl x3
Maiden’s Blush x1
Swallow Prominent x1
Lesser Swallow Prominent x1
Small Magpie x1
Common Wainscot x2
Flame Shoulder x1
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing x10+
Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing x1
Tawny Speckled Pug x2
Mint Moth x2
Spectacle x1
Lesser Yellow Underwing x2
Large Yellow Underwing x4
Copper Underwing x1
Dark Arches x2
Straw Dot x1
Six-stripe Rustic x3
Square-Spot Rustic x4
Shuttle-shaped Dart x1
Garden Pebble x2
Common Rustic x4
Eudonia mercurella x1
Straw Underwing x1
Vine’s Rustic x1
Flounced Rustic x1
Endotricha flammealis x1
Agapeta hamana x1

A week later, I ran the trap a second time. The conditions were less favourable (clearer skies – the theory is that moths confuse a bright light for the moon, and so trapping works best on cloudy nights when the moon is obscured) but I still managed to find 21 species (four new to me):

Lesser Broad-barred Yellow Underwing x6
Mouse Moth x1
Lunar Underwing x2
August Thorn x1 (I’m claiming it, but happy to see what others think about it)
Large Yellow Underwing x21
Riband Wave x1
Brimstone x5
Garden Carpet x1
Mother of Pearl x2
Square-spot Rustic x13
Orange Swift x4
Willow Beauty x2
Double-striped Pug x1
Setaceous Hebrew Character x9
Burnished Brass x2
Dark Arches x2
Straw Underwing x1
Common Rustic agg x1
Straw Dot x2
Garden Pebble x1

Garden Rose Tortrix x1

The numbers are not 100% accurate but give an idea of how many of each species I saw. I was delighted to see some Setaceous Hebrew Characters, it was their name that first prompted an interets in moths. The most colourful moths I’ve seen so far are the Orange Swifts and Burnished Brass, but th Lesser Swallow Prominent and Swallow Prominent were quite impressive too.

It’s certainly an addictive hobby, I’m really looking forward to next weekend when I’ll run the trap again. You shouldn’t trap too often in the same place as you’ll likely get the same months again. I’m planning on running the trap weekly into the autumn, then monthly during winter. 

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