Moths: April 2017
Light Brocade, Pale Mottled Willow and White Ermine were new for the year. The earliest date for the first was May 4th until now.
Although the cold night conditions keep overall numbers down the total number of macro species is well up on last year. 65 so far this year and 20 at the same time last year.
Four Rustic Shoulder-knots were newq for the year but it remains cool at night and moths are not active.
The promised front moved through overnight and delivered some light rain but it did not feel much warmer afterwards. There were 28 moths in the trap including the first Spectacle and Heart and Dart of the year. Muslin was most numerous with six.
In sunny, sheltered, spots it is well worth looking for ‘longhorn’ moths. Although small they are attractively coloured with bright metallic sheen wings. They dance up and down in groups of up to 30 or so.
The wind dropped a bit and this resulted in ice having to be scraped from the windscreens. Four moths, a Hebrew Character, an Angle Shades and two Flame Shoulders, did make it as far as the trap.
Another cold night, although the thermometer did not drop below 3.5°C the northerly wind chill factor was significant. No moths stuck their head above the parapet and made it into the main trap. Four of the regulars did venture out in the more sheltered Whitehouse.
The night started with that extreme rarity, a bit of rain but not much. There were only ten moths in the trap but one of these was our first purple Bar of the year. The earliest one of these before was on May 5th. Out of 61 macro species so far 23 have been on their earliest dates.
A Shark was trapped overnight – quite possibly the earliest county record of a species that normally emerges in mid May. Also, found on the Observatory windows, was a new micro Pammene rhediella (fruitlet Mining Tortrix). The latter is most surprising as it is a common species generally and we have plenty of Hawthorn and Dogwood. Flame has taken over as the commonest species.
A bit warmer but no more moths however there was a Silver Y. A daytime search by Dave Shenton yielded evidence of four species of Eriocrania on our birches and larval cases of four species of Coleophora.
A cloudier night ensured the temperature did not drop below 5°C. Twenty nine moths were caught including two Bright-line Brown Eyes and the earliest ever (by five days) Cabbage.
Do not forget the Kent Moth Group get together and meeting at the observatory tomorrow afternoon all welcome.
Not much of note in the trap last night, it was very cold the temperature dropped to-2.5°C and there was an early morning frost. However 2-3 Cinnabars were fluttering about on the beach and a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was nectaring at wallflowers in the Observatory garden.
The wind only dropped slowly overnight and so it was a suprise to note the temperature did not drop below 4.4°C. The moths were not impressed and only four made it in to the trap. One of these was a Lychnis, our earliest record by two weeks for this species.
Despite the overnight temperature dropping to 0.8°C there were 27 moths in the trap. These included three Shuttle-shaped Darts and a Dark/Grey Dagger (these two can only be told apart by exposing the males genitalia !) which were new for the year. A Red Chestnut was the first for a couple of weeks. Hebrew Character still tops the charts with eleven individuals.
Overnight cloud kept it a bit warmer and the first Swallow Prominent of the year was caught. There was also another Dark Swordgrass and a live Brimstone moth.
Despite a low of 4.3°C there was a Dark Swordgrass and a Dotted Border in the trap. The first Brimstone of the year only made it as far as a spider web on the window. The Oasis yielded the first Least Black Arches of the year.
Only 16 moths and Pyrausta despicata was the only new species for the year in thetrap.
Cold and dry again ( my rain gauge has not detected rain for over a month). There were 19 moths in the main trap, including the first Flame Shoulder of the year and our earliest ever Red Twin-spot Carpet. The Whitehouse yielded 12 more moths.
The clear nights continue and the temperature dropped to 3.6°C. This resulted in only 17 moths but one was a female Emperor, sadly no males were tempted in by her pheremones. Oblique Striped was also new for the year.
A warmer night with the temperature more than doubling to 7.4°C. It was still clear and with a bright moon. Numbers barely increased but it was quality not quantity. The Elms delivered Streamer, Clouded Border and Currant Pug new for the year. All were our earliest ever with the pug earlier by a month. The Streamer has not reached double figures for the total seen at the observatory. There was also a Garden Carpet from the observatory windows.
Despite the glorious sunny days pushing the temperatures during the day into the low 20’s the clear skies at night are resulting in the temperature tumbling to around 3°C. This and the lack of rain mean that moth activity is minimal. Last night only 13 made it into the trap and most of those were Hebrew Characters.
There was not enough drizzly rain to register on the rain gauge but it did tempt our earliest ever Chocolate-tips (2) out, plus the first Pale Prominent and V-pug of the year, and another Dotted Chestnut.
The cool nights limit the catch a bit but there is no strong breeze so there are some moths. Interestingly the night minimum continues to be around 4°C warmer a couple of miles inland. Our first Dark Swordgrass of the year was the highlight last night.
Still warm during the day but cool at night with the clear sky. Thirty-four moths included a Dotted Chestnut, which is not regular, and our first Angle Shades of the spring. The portable trap tried hard in Little Gully and the reward was the first Muslin of the spring.
A cooler night but still 42 moths. This included our 3rd or 4th Blossom Underwing ( several sites on the south and east coast recorded this last night ) and Pine Beauty, which we have not recorded for a couple of years.