Saturday 18 June 2022

How It's Going...

How it started...

21:56 on 2nd June 2022. The first night.

How it's going...

Well. Fractionally more than two weeks later, there is no doubt that I am in big trouble.

Because moths have it all. I know that birds have it all of course, but moths - worryingly - even more so. For a start, some 2,500 species have been recorded in the UK, rather than 600-odd. And they range from dead easy to super-tricky, from dead common to mega-rare. A small minority are dead dull, but boy, wa-a-a-y too many are dead gorgeous. As I say, big trouble...

A few tasters from recent days, with Dorset status in brackets...

Mocha (scattered distribution; always local)

Small Elephant Hawkmoth in early morning sunshine (common on optimum sites, though I have no idea if our garden is close to one)

Lime-speck Pug (common along the coast)

I do not catch millions of moths. The best night so far was 15th/16th, with a catch comprising 46 individuals of 25 species. Though a few micros will have been 'let go' due to my current unwillingness to get too involved with the things. When I get down to adding up the number of species trapped so far, I wouldn't be surprised if it's pushing 100, or perhaps more. Still, quite often I read on Twitter about catches totalling several hundred moths (and well in excess of 100 species) in a single night! Our little corner of Bridport is small potatoes.

Moths look so good in a photo. Thus far I have not done justice to their appearance, with my mostly 'in the pot' pics. It seems de rigeur to have a 'moth plank', upon which the little beasties are posed for portrait shots, so I poked around in the garage for a suitable bit of scrap wood. Behold...

Not 100% on this one, but for the moment it's a Dusky Brocade (locally common to frequent)

Just WOW!!! I am in love! Scarce Silver-lines (local)

Shoulder-striped Wainscot (ubiquitous; frequent to common)

Burnished Brass (widespread and frequent) - the yellowy bits shine like polished metal!

L-album Wainscot (frequent along the West Dorset coast...)

I am much happier with the photos now, and hopefully will get better at it as time goes by.

All the above are so-called macro moths. As I say, mostly I have been avoiding micros. I have dabbled though, and when I spotted a little plume moth in this morning's catch, I potted it up for attention later. Sandra volunteered to check it out, and after a while handed me the book and just said, 'See what you think'. There weren't many candidates, and when I told Sandra what I thought, she replied, 'Me too.'

Unfortunately we surely had to be wrong, because the book said: 'Migrant...From southern Europe and North Africa.' And on the very helpful Dorset Moths website: 'In Dorset, up till 2010, there are just three records for this species. One of these was from the Isle of Portland; since then, a further seven individuals have been recorded on Portland, notably in 2019.'

Had we really caught a pucka immigrant from far, far away? Well, Friday did see a plume of warm air and Sahara dust waft across the south of England, so maybe...

And yes, it turns out we had.

This weird little thing is Oxyptilus laetus, the Scarce Light Plume.

I think it's quite funny that our rarest moth so far is a micro, one of those creatures I'm a bit scared of.

So, there we are. This blog will never be quite the same again.

This morning I was invited to join in the emptying of a whole bunch of moth traps which had been set out at Mapperton. Unfortunately I couldn't spare much time, but suffice to say the first trap took more than an hour to process. It was mayhem! But that's for another post...


  1. You are truly sunk. A real rare in the first month. And then after the micros you start to look at the other beasts the light brings in... Some lovely moths there, rather a lot I've never seen, the furthest south I've got with a trap is Norfolk. Yes, that looks like Dusky Brocade BTW.

    1. Yep, a rarity is always going to sweeten the deal. 😄
      Cockchafer, Orange Ladybird so far, lots of caddisflies which are clearly several species, etc, etc... Yes, I can see the problem! Ta for Dusky Brocade confirmation by the way. 👍

  2. What a start Gav! Your Scarce Light Plume is amazing, and one I've been really hoping to see here in Exmouth. It's good to know they might be creeping this way. Scarce Silverlines always takes the breath away - a ludicrously cool moth. As for Mocha - I've never, ever trapped one but I know Steve gets them. I'm probably a little too far west here. Really looking forward to seeing what you trap in future. I reckon I was seeing new moths every time I put the trap out in my first year of trapping, and that pretty much continued into my second year. I still have way more species to see than I've seen so far - one of the many reasons it's such a wonderful pursuit. All the best. Matt. PS if you ever want to borrow some Clearwing lures give me a shout...

    1. Cheers Matt. I am so new to this game that there are literally just a handful of moths that would cause trembly knees if I opened the trap and saw one. Scarce Light Plume wasn't on that list! 😄 What a fascinating world is being revealed to me. Thanks ever so much for your comment.
      And if I'm ever over your way I might take you up on that offer, though maybe next year. I feel like I ought to get a bit more familiar with the everyday moths first. 👍

  3. Both feet - spadoosh and Gav's in up to his neck ;o) Some beautiful creatures, and only a month in.

    1. Thanks Dave, they are so stunning close up. And yes, over my head possibly! 😄

  4. Away from birds and onto plants and moths Gav! You have clearly started moving towards the darker side. Aided and assisted by an actinic trap of course.

    1. There is no hope for me, Ric. Birds will feature again soon enough I reckon!