Friday, 2 June 2023

A First Anniversary

Last Friday: back home after fortnight on Jersey.

Saturday evening: first paragraphs of thoughtful, witty, erudite blog post...will undoubtedly be best thing I've ever written.

Sunday: change mind about quality of last night's words. Ditch them.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, much of today: way too much work for a bloke my age.

Every single morning: bleary-eyed inspection of moth trap at stupid o'clock.

I now have a splendid farmer's tan, massive sleep debt and a rake of unpublished moth photos. So I've decided to treat this current dose of writer's block by celebrating my first year of moth trapping. Exactly 12 months ago today, my little bucket trap was deployed in the garden for the first time. It is out there now, ready for action once more...

We have had some good times together, that moth trap and me. It has opened my eyes to another world, a world where the mildly obsessive, addictive tendancies that make me very bad at completing DIY jobs can run wild and free. And I love it!

So here is a generous selection of the gifts it has given me lately...

Pebble Prominent. This one caught prior to our trip to Jersey, and there have been a few others since.

Buff-tip, the 'broken twig' moth.

First Mocha of the year. Lovely scribbled markings.

Treble Lines. Not sure how this moth got its name.

Pebble Hook-tip.

A really well-marked Common Pug.

Common Marbled Carpet. A variable moth, and we've already had a few different versions.

May Highflyer. Caught in May. Appropriate.

Pale Mottled Willow. A nice example of how a 'boring' brown moth is actually not, when you look closely.

Mottled Rustic ditto, with those caramel streaks.

Two Mochas with my morning coffee on 29th May. Heady stuff!

With 2000+ micros on offer, new moths for the garden are frequently from that category, with all the ID challenges that go with it.

Orange Footman. One of three caught on 28th/29th. No others yet.

Another new micro. Pretty common apparently.

Introduced from North America with its foodplant, this moth has been in the UK for 25+ years now. This is our second, after one last year. Just a handful of Bridport area records so far.

We caught one of these beasties last year too.

Buff Long-horn living up to its English name, with those crazy antennae.

'Checking the moth trap' isn't just checking the moth trap. Many a fine moth has been discovered stuck to various items of garden furniture etc, like this Pale Tussock.

Before my time as a moth botherer, Blair's Mocha was a scarce migrant only, but there is evidently now a well-established population in the Bridport area - we get loads more records of this subtle beauty than any other part of Dorset.

The larvae of Aphomia sociella (Bee Moth) feed on the comb inside bee and wasp nests. Cool. Caught a few of these now.

Possibly the 'rarest' recent moth, though an adventive species, imported with its foodplants. Appears to be a first for Bridport, with just a few other records in West Dorset. I love this characterful little family of 'tripod moths'.

Caught a few of these last year, but this is the first of 2023.

Ditto above.

Not all Mint Moths are purple and gold!

Caught two of these last year. Not many local records. Tiny, but quite easy to ID.

Another Blair's Mocha. Just because...

Vine's Rustic. Common right now.

Small Square-spot. Common, but this is the first of 2023. Last year I didn't catch any until autumn I think - the second generation.

Treble Brown Spot - a garden first.

Small Dusty Wave. Only caught two last year, but that figure already matched in 2023.

Brown Silver-line. Not uncommon, but only a single to our garden last year. Nice to see it again.

A tricky one to ID, with at least one very similar congener. Hopefully I've got it right.

Not as common as you'd think a so-called 'clothes moth' ought to be! Caught two last year, but there appear to be <10 records in the Bridport area.

Puss Moth. What a magnificent creature! A garden first, and highlight of last night's catch.

So, that's it. The first blog post in a while, and uncompromisingly mothy. I'm not sure quite how many species our garden has produced in this first year of trapping, but hopefully I'll get around to working that out. The 2023 tally stands at 111 (plus 5 aggregates) - I expect two weeks out in the latter half of May has cost me a few species!


  1. More power to your moth bothering Gav. You're getting the results. Such is the volume and variety of the genus, I can see the anticipation of the morning egg box inspection.

  2. Puss Moths are truly tremendous! We've only had a couple in the garden here but they are one of my faves!