Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Moth-trapping in Brede High Wood

An Article by Heather Martin

It wasn't raining, it wasn't too windy and it wasn't too cold so David, Keith, Mike, Jim, Stuart, Martyn, Dave, Mike, Tracy, Rodney and I met up in the car park at Brede High Wood on Friday (13th July) evening to spend a few hours moth-trapping. Despite the recent very wet weather the main track was firm and we were able to drive our equipment down into the wood to set up our traps in a range of habitats - the result of extensive work that has been carried out in the woods over the last few years. We hoped that by doing this we would attract a wide variety of moth species.

As darkness fell they slowly began to flutter in - all shapes and sizes, from a large Pine Hawkmoth (Hyloicus pinastri) to the rather distinctively marked micro, Lozotaeniodes formosana. The latter, which is found amongst pine trees, was first recorded in Surrey in 1945 and has since been expanding its range across Southern Britain.
(Pine Hawk-moth)

(Lozotaeniodes formosana)

The Lobster Moth (Stauropus fagi) is so called because in both shape and colour it's larva looks rather like a lobster. It is mainly found in areas of mature woodland and has a habit of resting with the hindwings slightly protruding. This specimen is a male on account of its feathery brown antennae.

 UK Moths: Lobster moth larvae

The sight of a Spectacle Moth (Abrostola tripartita) never fails to make me smile as I look head on at the 'spectacles' on the front of its thorax topped off with a furry 'turret'. The caterpillars feed on Common Nettles (Urtica dioica).

This Purple Clay (Diarsia brunnea) moth (photo Mike Pepler) has a beautiful subtle mix of colours on its wings with contrasting pale straw kidney-marks.

We all walked round together and inspected the contents of each trap, hoping that as the night wore on more and possibly rarer species might make an appearance.

The last trap on our round belonged to Keith and as we gazed at a pair of Ghost Moths (Hapialus humuli humuli) settled on the ground sheet, someone uttered the dreaded words, "Did I just feel rain falling on me?".

Unfortunately, yes! The initial drizzle rapidly developed into something far more unpleasant forcing us to make the decision to pack up our equipment. It was so disappointing but in the couple of dry hours we had, we recorded a total of 72 different moth species.

Night scene and Purple Clay photos from Mike Pepler

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