Monday, 9 July 2012

cordwood moths 2012

A calm, rain free evening welcomed Dr Sheila Wright & John Osborne to Cordwood on Saturday.

John and Sheila had come to do our first moth census and at the same time to give us a masterclass in moth identification.

Sheila reminded, us as the moths were attracted to the bright light, that we have 10% of the insects we had 100 years ago. This is a stark and depressing fact and a damning commentary upon our custodianship of the natural world. Whilst the cuddly or cute mammals like red squirrel or dormice attract protection, our invertebrates get almost no public attention.

And whilst British bats all receive protection, their food supply doesn't. We recorded no bats on site during our evening session on what was a perfect night for bats.

Sheila and John's visit confirmed our resolve to make Cordwood as invertebrate friendly as possible. Sheila's recommendations for helping moths in our soon-to-be-planted wildflower meadow are:
Best plants:
Birds foot trefoil
Heath bedstraw
Timothy / fescue grasses

They also recommended night scented stocks and honeysuckle as being useful for moths.

So, what would have been a paltry total of 38 species a hundred years ago was quite reasonable for our first mothwatch. British moths were named by Victorian moth collectors and rejoice in such names as 'Hart and dart', 'Bright line brown eye' and 'Burnished brass' lending recording an exotic feel.

Species:

Yellow shell
Snout
Pug?
Common carpet
Light emerald
Double square spot
Small fanfoot
Mottled beauty (pictured)
Common or lesser common  rustic
Riband wave
Middle barred minor
Brimstone
Marbled minor
Dark arches
Grey arches
Flame shoulder
Spectacle
Light arches
Flame
The fan foot
Clouded silver
Small angleshades
V pug
Heart and dart
Purple clay
Dun-bar
Silver Y (migrant from southern Europe and Spain)
Large yellow underwing
Common wainscot
Foxglove pug
Shaded broad-bar
Scarce footman
Clay
Grey pine carpet
Bright line brown eye
Burnished brass
Rustic/ uncertain species complex
Garden carpet
Blood-vein

The two biggest families of moths are

Noctuid moths - flat wings in isosceles triangle

Geometers - butterfly like moths.

and all but one species recorded were from these two families. We also had one representative from the Arctidi - the Scarce footman. other species in this family are tiger and ermine moth.

But, as for the rare Pauper Pug - a little late in the season ...perhaps next year?

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