NATIONAL MOTH NIGHT

This actually runs over three nights-this year August 27th, 28th and 29th.

We would normally host a moth night at the Field Centre, but as that is not feasible, this year we tried our first ever Live Stream from our Facebook Page for National Moth Night.

Watch it HERE.

Monday 31st

A small number of Toadflax Brocade larvae were found on Purple Toadflax outside the ringing room. Despite it’s increase across the UK in recent years this is still a relatively scarce species here at Sandwich Bay with less than ten records, and only the second time larvae have been found here.

The wind dropped through the night and it was cool and clear by morning. There were 219 moths of 43 species including four Silver Ys. Although we have had a few of the white form of Box Moth we had the first dark form last night.

Now that NMN is over Red Underwing reappeared!

There was a Hummingbird Hawk-moth nectaring on Daphne on Sandown Road.

Sunday 30th

Last night was the last night of NMN and true to form it blew a strong wind and there were heavy showers. I was surprised that the temperature did not drop below 13°C. One trap held 180 moths of 28 species and the other 71 moths of 23 species. This included five Dark Swordgrasses, a Delicate and the first Centre-barred Sallow of the year.

Saturday 29th

Another squally, windy, night saw the temperature drop to 11.8°C. The catch dropped accordingly to 191 moths of 27 species in the car park and 137 moths of 33 species by the feeders. There were three Dark Sword-grasses, and singles of Golden Twin-spot, Silver Y and Rush Veneer. Breckland Plume seems to be establishing itself well and there was another of these.

Friday 28th

You can actually hear the ground sighing with relief as it slurps up some water. We put two traps out and they both survived the thundery squalls.  The car park trap held more moths but less species compared to the trap by the feeders (33 vs 42) and 54 species were recorded in total. Highlights included a fresh looking Convolvulus Hawk-moth (first for the year) and a Palpita vitrealis.

Thursday 27th

With National Moth Night starting tonight and the ‘broadcast’ tomorrow night it was good to have conditions safe for putting the trap out. Some cloud cover kept the temperature above 13.4°C and 472 moths of 59 species were recorded. Scarce Bordered Straw and Large Wainscot were new for the year. Setaceous Hebrew Character continues to lead the way with 145. Also of note were Five Silver Ys, two Delicates, a Golden Twin-spot and an Oblique-striped.

The forecast for tonight is not great and it will depend a lot on how much rain there is. The cloud will help keep the temperature up but continuous rain will reduce activity.

Monday 24th

The nights are getting cooler with the temperature dropping to 11.8°C but the catch did not change much with 403 moths of 58 species. There were examples of several species most of which have not been recorded for a few weeks e.g. Garden and Ruby Tiger, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Green Carpet and Evergestis limbata.

The trap is being given a rest with the approach of the storm now on the horizon.

Sunday 23rd

It was still windy overnight and the temperature dropped to 14.5°C. There were 447 moths of 48 species with Setaceous Hebrew Character firmly in the leader spot with 161. There were five Dark Sword-grasses and the next generation of Golden Twin-spot is getting going with four more. Although Shaded Broad-bar can be seen in the field easily the one today was the first to make it to the trap this year.

Golden Twin-spot. 23/8/20. I Hunter
Golden Twin-spot. 23/8/20. I Hunter
Golden Twin-spot. 23/8/20. I Hunter

Although fidgety moths the spots are all clear and show some of the range of designs.

Saturday 22nd

The wind continued all last night and although the temperature did not drop below 16.2°C the moths were as fed up with it as we are. There were 364 of 48 species. The run of Acrobasis tumidana continued with another and there was another fresh Delicate. The main event was outside the trap with four Red Underwings on the sides of the Obs building.

Friday 21st

Considering the strength of the gusty wind overnight a catch of 540 moths of 71 species was a surprise. It was helped by the temperature not dropping below 17.3°C. Dusky Thorns clearly emerged with five recorded. Other moths of note were Acrobasis tumidana, Rest Harrow, two Small Rufous, two Diamondbacks, two Dark Sword-grasses and ten Silver Ys. The bulk was made up by 126 Setaceous Hebrew Characters and seventy Agriphila tristellas.

Thursday 20th

The trap last night survived some early rain (a mega-rarity in itself) and strong winds. Two hundred and forty moths of 38 species ventured out. This did include three Diamondbacks and three Silver Ys. Dark Spinach continued its good run with another example.

There were also over 160 Cosmopterix pulchrimella in Middle Field in the morning.

Wednesday 19th

The breeze picked up overnight but the temperature id not drop below 14.9 C. It was a similar catch to the previous night with 384 moths of 67 species. With the wind from the SW there was no evidence of migrant activity indeed the ten Silver Ys were all very fresh looking and could well have been local. There were singles of Small and Twin-spotted Wainscot and a Hedge Rustic. All are resident species but appear to be having a long run this year.

Tuesday 18th

Another clear and calm night. I guess it was a bit warmer (I omitted to put the thermometer out) as the catch increased to 374 moths of 62 species. The highlight was a different Beautiful Marbled, unfortunately the journey across the Channel used up its resources and it was dead in the bottom of the trap. There was yet another Acrobasis tumidana and a newly emerged Delicate. There is a changing of the guard in the commoner species with only 42 Common Wainscots being surpassed by 73 Setaceous Hebrew Characters. It will be interesting to see how another staple of late summer, Large Yellow Underwing, fares over these dry conditions. So far they are only in single figures.

Monday 17th

Although the night started overcast it cleared and the temperature ‘plummeted’ to 13.3 C. The moths also dropped to 251 of 50 species. The run of Golden Twin-spots came to an end but there was the first Pearly Underwing of the autumn. There were also 12 Silver Ys and a Dingy Footman of the yellowish form stramineola.

Sunday 16th

The run of hot, humid, nights continues although it did drop to 18.3 C. There were 635 moths of 106 species. This included 24 Silver Ys, three Dark Sword-grasses and three Golden Twin-spots. Singles of Pigmy Footman and Rest Harrow were still keeping going and the next generation of Saltmarsh Plume appeared.

The main excitement was reserved for near the bottom of the trap where there was a Beautiful Marbled. This would be a very attractive addition to our fauna if it gets established, records are slowly increasing in the south.

Beautiful Marbled. 16th August 2020. I Hunter

Saturday 15th

No sign of cooling yet with a minimum night time temperature of 20.7 C. It was also overcast and humid. The moths shot back up to 1,013 of 115 species in the car park trap. There were no new species for the year although more late generations are appearing, this time Rosy Wave and L-album Wainscot were of note The catch included 226 Common Wainscots, 29 White-points, 26 Silver Ys and 17 Golden Twin-spots

Friday 14th

Another ‘tropical’ night with cloud keeping the temperature above 20 C. The heat seems to be getting to some of the moths and there was a reduction to 597 moths of 102 species.

The excitement was on the outside of the trap where a Clifden Nonpareil was resting

Clifden Nonpareil. 14 August 2020. S walton, I Hunter
Clifden Nonpareil with Red Underwing comparison. 14th August 2020. I Hunter

Thursday 13th

Another hot, humid night with a minimum of 19.4 C. It stayed dry until just before dawn and 743 moths of 117 species were identified. This included 226 Common Wainscots, 13 Silver Ys, seven Straw Underwings, six Golden Twin-spots, two Acrobasis tumidanas (not the same as the previous night) and a Palpita vitrealis. In the last couple of years numbers of Small-square Spots have been dropping and so six last night was of note.

Over by The Elms a trap produced Slender Pug, Angle-barred Pug, Cypress Pug, Pimpinel Pug, and August Thorn new for the year.

Wednesday 12th

Not quite tropical last night as the temperature dropped to 18.8 C. There were 736 moths of 116 species in the trap. This included only 208 Common Wainscots! Golden Twin-spots continued their incredible run with six more, there were two more Acrobasis repandanas and a Sitochroa palealis.

Glory once again went to an adjacent trap which yielded our second ever Pale Shoulder.

Pale Shoulder byV Atkinson and S.Walton

Tuesday 11th

Last night was our first of what the Met. Office calls a Tropical Night, the temperature did not drop below 20 C. With thin, high, cloud it was excellent for moths with at least 1064 of 143 species in the main trap. This included an amazing 391 Common Wainscots, 15 Tree-lichen Beauties, six Golden Twin-spots, five Ethmia bipunctellas, 16 Silver Ys, and this time a complete Jersey Tiger. There was the first Copper Underwing of the year and Small Elephant Hawk-moth kept its long run going.

An actinic trap run by a visitor yielded a Dusky Hook-tip.

Dusky Hook-tip. 11 August 2020..Mark Wilkinson/I Hunter
Some of the 391 Common Wainscots last night. 11 August 2020. I Hunter

Monday 10th

The heat might be beginning to affect the local moths. Although the temperature did not drop below 18.3 C there was a slight drop in numbers to 589 of 114 species. The range of species remains impressive. Jersey Tiger has been a feature of many urban traps this year in Kent with hauls over 40 regular. We nearly joined in as there was the right forewing of one outside the trap. Which ever bird or bat took it enjoyed the rest.

Another feature has been the numbers of Common Wainscots last night it was 159. There was a second Gypsy Moth, a Golden Twin-spot (plus five in adjoining traps), and another Acrobasis tumidana. Rush Veneers have not been a feature until now but there were three in the trap. Small Wainscot and Poplar Kitten were new for the year.

Sunday 9th

The heat wave continues, this time there was a bit less cloud at night and the temperature plummeted to 18.2 C. More moths (689) of less species (118) were caught. There was another Langmaid’s Yellow Underwing, two each of Rest Harrow and Purple Bar. The most notable record was an Evergestis extimalis.

One consequence of the hot conditions and occassional light winds from the shore are a number of species which are wandering from their usual haunts. The last two days there have been 16 different Ancylosis oblitella, a species more associated with the saltmarsh and shore although it can also be a migrant.

A trap on the beach for a few hours brought our second record of Four-spotted.

Four-spotted by R.Waters

Saturday 8th

A hot, humid, night followed a hot day with the daytime temperature in the mid-30’s and the night not falling below 19.1°C. The trap was very busy and so far we have identified 660 moths of 131 species, with plenty more to come. A Gypsy Moth was new in as were some of the 15 Silver Y’s and four Dark Sword-grasses. Other moths of note (in the order they came out of the trap) were Acrobasis tumidana, 13 Tree-lichen Beauties, seven Rest Harrows, Scarce Chocolate-tip, two Golden Twin-spots, a late Langmaid’s Yellow Underwing, two Bright Waves (a second generation?), Oblique-striped, and Broad-barred White. A visitor at the house next door added an Oak Processionary.

It was a bit of a Wainscot fest including Common, Smoky, Southern, Mathew’s, Brown-veined, Twin-spot and Reed Dagger. The prize went to some visiting mothers who caught two Mere Wainscots.

Six-striped Rustic was also new for the year.

Apologies for the lack of photos but the web owners have ‘upgraded’ the site and we have not yet worked out how to get photos on to these pages!

Palpita vitrealis. 7 August 2020. I Hunter

Friday 7th

Another clear night but very little breeze and so the temperature did not drop below 14 C. There were 298 moths of 82 species. Scorched Carpet was only the second this season. There was clearly some emergence last night as there were very fresh examples of moths such as Straw Underwing and Barred Rivulet.

Thursday 6th

As if to prove a point a bit of cloud gathered, it was humid and the temperature did not drop below 15.7 C. The catch shot up to 491 moths of 107 species. The most common was the distinctive micro Pedasia contaminella with 69. Orange Swift and Barred Rivulet were new for the year as was the grass moth Agriphila selasella. Matthew’s Wainscot continued their excellent run with two more and there were a few of the distinctive black and white, with yellow body, micro Ethmia bipunctella.

Three Red Underwings were a bit large and active to fit in the trap and were spread around the building walls, with three Hummingbird Hawk-moths also spread around the Estate.

Wednesday 5th

Combine a bright moon with a stiff breeze and hopes were not high for a good catch. The drop to 85 moths of 36 species was dramatic though. Only Common Rustic agg. made it into double figures. Golden Twin-spot chipped in with another example.

Tuesday 4th

A clear sky and a bright moon resulted in the catch being halved to just 153 moths of 58 species. This did include two Rest Harrows, a Golden Twin-spot and a freshly emerged Beautiful Hook-tip.

Hopefully those forecasting good things for the end of the week have factored in the brightness of the moon or can order up some cloud cover.

Monday 3rd

A clear start to the night so the temperature dip a bit to 14.9 C. The highlight was another Acrobasis tumidana. There were two more Golden Twin-spots and seven Silver Ys. Square-spot Rustic was new for the year.

Dangerous to look ahead but the forecast for the end of the week is looking hopeful.

Sunday 2nd

No cloud last night so it was a tiny bit cooler at 16.2 C but it meant the bright moon had more of an effect.

There were 431 moths of 109 species. This time there was a Diamondback but the main features were again local moths. This was headed by five Golden Twin-spots and another Plumed Fan-foot. There was another Small Scallop and Tawny-speckled Pug was new for the year.

Saturday 1st

After such a hot day, followed by the wind dropping and a bit of cloud to shade some of the bright moon, it was not a surprise the temperature did not fall below a muggy 17.8⁰C. There was a big catch of 563 moths of 115 species. Very surprisingly there were few migrants – only an Oak Processionary (this is the one they are spraying Oak trees to kill, despite the constant influx) and a Dark Sword-grass. There were no Silver Y’s or Diamondbacks.

Local moths of note included 16 Tree Lichen Beauties, Matthew’s Wainscot, and the first Golden Twin-spot and Twin-spotted Wainscots (2) of the year.

Lesser Swallow and Swallow Prominent. 7th August 2020. I Hunter