Monday 31st

The easterly was enough to drop the overnight temperature to just over 7°C but the day was warm enough to encourage a further slight increase.

There were 30 moths of 19 species. Grass Rivulet, Chinese Character, Pale Prominent and Swallow Prominent (the last three about a month later than last year) were all new for this trap this year. White-point and Heart and Dart led the way with four each.

Sunday 30th

The only way is up, which is just as well with our first broadcast from the moth trap this year coming up on June 12th.

Out of the cold sea breeze the temperature was just above 10 at 10.1°C. There were 18 moths of 11 species including three micros. Marbled Minor agg., Lychnis, and White-point were new for this trap this year along with Teleiopsis diffinis and Epiphyas postvitana, the latter is usually recorded in just about every month of the year.

Saturday 29th

There was no trap set for a few days. However, a plume moth I sent off for checking last year has been identified as Small Scabious Plume Stenoptila annadactyla, a first for the Kent data base. It turned up at the same time as Dingy White Plume Merrifielda baliodactyla and Moitrelia obductella, suggesting an inland chalk grassland origination.

Inland more moths are showing up but we have a cool onshore wind, which has brought in another arrival of Painted Lady butterflies, and it will be interesting to see how this affects moth activity.

Friday 28th

I have been away for a few days and that plus ropey weather meant the main trap was not operated until last night. The weather is improving but the nights remain cool, 8.1°C last night.  There were 12 moths including four Heart and Darts, two Turnips and a Poplar Hawk. Mottled Rustic was new for this trap this year.

A walk around New Downs produced Yellow Belle, Oblique-striped, and Cinnabar.

Thursday 27th

A couple of Yellow Belles were in Oasis late morning. A few actinic traps in the Gullies last night produced a good variety including Nematopogon swammerdamella, Crambus lathoniellus, Blood-Vein, three Red Twin-spot Carpets, Purple Bar, 33 Green Carpets, three Clouded Borders, Light Emerald, Yellow Belle, Muslin, Silver Y, three Treble Lines, Bright-line Brown-Eye, three Heart And Darts, Turnip, Large Yellow Underwing, and two Least Black Arches.

Monday 24th

A few Mother Shiptons were in the rough grass around the Gullies. In the Gullies themselves there were several Coleophora serratella cases on Birch and Alder and inspection of tenanted mines on Birch found Eriocrania unimaculella.

Eriocrania unimaculella by S.Walton

Saturday 22nd

The cold nights persist (6.5°C last night) and there were only two moths – a Shuttle-shaped Dart and a Dark Sword-grass. Without migrants our list for this year would be very poor. It will be interesting to see if any of them can keep warm enough, for long enough, to breed locally.

The forecast for the next couple of nights could preclude any trapping.

Friday 21st

The trap hung on as stormy winds swept in overnight. Only two moths ventured out, a Small Elephant Hawk-moth and a Common Swift. A Common Carpet enjoyed the sun in the shelter of the Elms.

Thursday 20th

Another cool night down to 5.1°C continued the poor season. There were five moths, one each of Bright-line Brown-eye, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Muslin, Turnip and, new for the year, Common Swift.

Over in the Whitehouse there were a handful of Grass Rivulets and a Lead-coloured Pug.

Wednesday 19th

Rain clouds kept some warmth in and the temperature did not drop below 10.4°C. Slowly but surely the number of moths and species is creeping up, we might even make double figures soon (it really is that bad). There were nine moths of nine species. This included the first Bird’s Wing of the year, plus a Herald and a Pale Mottled Willow of interest. Normally Hebrew Characters are coming to the end of their season by now but there was a very fresh looking one last night.


Tuesday 18th

More heavy showers quickly moved on allowing the temperature to drop to 6.7°C. Although it would seem moths are starting to appear in some places it remains very quiet here with only five moths last night. Another new tortrix for the year was Celypha lacunana and there was a battered Powdered Quaker still hanging on. It was a lovely, warm and sunny morning today and this encouraged out the first Common White Wave and hopefully other moths will follow.

Monday 17th

Overnight shower clouds kept the temperature above 10.3°C. despite this the catch was less than ten, but the earlier regulars have gone. We had two Cabbages and singles of Rustic Shoulder-knot (new for the year), Turnip, Shuttle-shaped Dart, and T.chrysonuchella. More unusual was the first tortrix since the mild in spell in February, a Cochylis atricapitana.

Sunday 16th

Following a cool, showery day, last night was fairly calm and the temperature stayed above 7.7°C. This did not impress the moths and there were only three – a Cinnabar, a Shuttle-shaped Dart, and a T. chrysonuchella. Although very frustrating I find it interesting to keep going. There are some questions and it will be interesting to get the answers to e.g. will numbers recover this year? Will species just be late? What will be the effect on next years populations?

Saturday 15th

With cloud rolling in eventually and a southerly breeze the count made it into the heady heights of double figures – 11 moths. Some of these were new species for the year. Two Silver Y’s were probably new in and with the wind direction. Pale Mottled Willow and Bright-line Brown-eye might have been but Cinnabar will be local.

Small Elephant Hawkmoth. May 14th 2021. I Hunter
Small elephant Hawkmoth head. 14/5/21. I Hunter

Friday 14th

Still a single figure catch – nine moths. It did include the first Small Elephant Hawk-moth and White-point of the year. There was also the second ‘micro’ of the month, the grass moth Thisanotia chrysonuchella which has a local and often coastal distribution.

Thisanotia chrysonuchella. 14/5/21. I Hunter

Wednesday 12th

A fairly calm night with the temperature only falling to just above 8°C. The catch still remains less than ten in total. We did manage a migrant with the first Diamondback of the year. Poplar Hawkmoth was also new. Over in the Gullies a few actinics were more successful. Green Carpet, Brimstone, Treble Lines, Bright-line Brown-eye, Heart and Dart, and Ypsolopha mucronella were all new for the year. There were lots of Glyphipterix fuscoviridella, Dichrorampha sp and an Adela reaumurella flying around Middle Field in the day.

Poplar Hawkmoth head. 12 May 21. I Hunter


Poplar Hawkmoth, 12 May21. I Hunter


Adela reaumurella by Becky Downey

Tuesday 11th

Although daytime observations are keeping the interest going the night time catch is still minimal. Last night there were only five moths in the carpark, of which Spectacle was new for the year. We were rather hoping that there might be some migrant moths accompanying all the Painted Ladies which turned up with the southerlies on Sunday, with migrant Gems, Striped Hawk-moths, and Tebenna micalis seen recently around the UK.

Monday 10th

A few Silver Y’s were out on the Estate, presumably new in with all the Painted Lady’s, and a Mother Shipton was in Middle Field.

Mother Shipton by S.Reynaert

Sunday 9th

The temperature is slowly creeping up, falling to only 6.9°C last night. The moths are not impressed yet and there were only seven plus a Great Silver Diving Beetle. Pebble Prominent and Cabbage were new for the year.

Saturday 8th

Although there is hope on the horizon in the forecasts it was cool (3.5°C) and clear last night. There were nine moths – Chinese Character (new for the year), five Powdered Quakers, and singles of Dark Sword-grass, Angle Shades and Muslin.

Friday 7th

The clear, cold, nights continue. This time the temperature fell to 1.9°C and a Powdered Quaker and a Hebrew Character graced the trap.

Thursday 6th

With the forecast last night being for the chance of some showers it rained steadily, but not heavily, for an hour or so. The skies then cleared and the temperature fell to 0.8°C. This was enough to ensure there were no moths or any other living things in the trap.

Wednesday 5th

Well it was definitely stormy on Monday night (there was even a bit of rain although looking at the ground you might not think so) and it took the wind a lot longer than forecast to drop, still gusting strongly when the trap was put out for Tuesday night. It did drop eventually but there were only five moths in the trap. One of these was the first Dark Sword-grass for the year.

Monday 3rd

Another frost but it did not feel quite as cold! The temperature only dropped to 4.6°C. Although there were only nine moths it did include three firsts for the year – Flame Shoulder, Nutmeg, and three Shuttle-shaped Darts. With a severe weather warning out for tonight the trap will be wrapped up. Should any damp arrive it will be interesting to see if the moths improve afterwards.

Sunday 2nd

All the same apart from a minimum of 1.1°C but only ten moths. A Turnip was a surprise and the rest came in threes, namely Muslin, Powdered Quaker, and Hebrew Character.

Saturday 1st 

Another frosty, clear, night with the temperature down to 0.1°C. The daytime is warm out of the wind and so a few moths are creeping out. The catch increased to 13 with Red Chestnut and Early Grey reappearing after a gap of a couple of weeks. There are at least a dozen species we would have expected by now but have not seen this year and it will be interesting to see if they can put in a late appearance. This caterpillar was wandering across the grass, probably getting ready to pupate.

Cream-spot Tiger larva. S Hunter 1st May 2021


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