Wednesday 30th

With unsettled, windy, wet weather forecast to be heading this way it was good to get a clear run last night. The temperature did drop to 7.6°C but there were still 190 moths of 23 species. There was another Clancy’s Rustic, a Pearly Underwing and most surprising the pyrail Eudonia delunella.

Tuesday 29th

A bit cooler last night with the temperature down to 9.1°C and a light shower or two. There were 228 moths of 23 species. Eighty three Lunar Underwings and 74 Large Yellow Underwings made up the bulk. There were three Deep-brown Darts, a Silver Y and a Clancy’s Rustic. Mallow was new for the year.

Monday 28th

After the wind and rain of the last few days the forecast was for the wind to drop a bit and so it was good to get the trap back out. A complete cover of cloud helped keep the temperature above 11.5°C. This resulted in a good catch of 293 moths of 25 species. Lunar Underwing was top moth with 134 and 13 Autumnal Rustics, seven Black Rustics and three Silver Y’s were of note.

There was also a male Southern Oak Bush Cricket.

Friday 25th

The forecast strong wind held off for 12 hours and heavy showers did not deter some moths. Although the temperature dropped to 6.9°C there were 184 moths of 23 species. Half of these were Lunar Underwings but Barred Sallow was new for the year and Scarce Bordered Straw was of note.

Dotted Chestnut. 25/9/20. I Hunter

Thursday 24th

The forecast is not good for moth trapping but the rain held off last night and the temperature did not drop below 9.7°C which is warmer than some of the stuff forecast to be heading this way. It was a pleasant surprise to catch 268 moths of 30 species. This included a Convolvulus Hawk-moth, two Delicates, a Dotted Chestnut and a Scarce Bordered Straw. The first and the last of these must be wondering what they have emerged into. Lunar Underwings were unphased by the wind and there were 107 of them.

This Autumnal Rustic is possibly pinker than the last.

Autumnal Rustic 24/9/20. I Hunter

Wednesday 23rd

Last night might have been the last hurrah for a while as cooler, unsettled, weather heads this way. Although we need some rain (one day in the last two months) it did hold off until this morning. The cloud kept the temperature above 15.2°C and the trap held 423 moths of 47 species. This included eleven Delicates, three Turnips, two Silver Ys, Dark Sword-grass, European Corn-borer and Box-tree Moth.

Plus a mystery guest-a putative Northern Deep-brown Dart. This is a species over which there is some debate as to whether it is the same species as Deep-brown Dart. Certainly this one looks nothing like our other Deep-brown Darts and we will have to research further. If anyone out there has any experience please contact us at the observatory. By the way it is a female with dark-grey hind wings.

A visitors actinic traps yielded six more Delicates, Clancy’s Rustic, Kent Black Arches and another Box-tree Moth.

Putative Northern Deep-brown Dart. 23/9/20. I Hunter

Tuesday 22nd

Since the time of the sadly deceased John Beugg the standard place for the trap has been in the car park as it is in the open but away from most of the public. Once or twice it has been driven into and so it is now surrounded by four highly reflective orange and white traffic cones plus the cable drum has a luminescent orange box covering it, obviously in the middle of all this is a bright 125W light. With the car park being ‘packed’ last night with at least two other cars it was something of a shock this morning to find that someone had driven into one of the cones and the cable box. Not only that but they did not even have the decency to let us know, in case there was an electrical problem. Fortunately by pure chance the electrician was in doing the PAT testing and so was able to check over the equipment. It is scary to think there are drivers out there who cannot notice they have driven over a cone, a bright light, and large plastic box in an almost empty car park.

Moth trap hit and run 22/9/20

On a more positive note it was another good night for trapping with 299 moths of 34 species. The highlights were a Palpita vitrealis, two Deep-brown Darts and eight Delicates.

It is always good to welcome visitors to the observatory and they can contribute lots to our knowledge of the area. Trapping by The Elms yielded 12 Autumnal Rustics and two Barred Reds – one of each colour form.

Monday 21st

The wind dropped at last and although it was cooler at 9.2°C there were 324 moths of 36 species. This included the first Dewick’s Plusia, Deep-brown Dart and Feathered Brindle of the year. There were also eight more Delicates, a Clancy’s Rustic and a Diamondback.

A pinker Autumnal Rustic. 20/9/20. I Hunter

Sunday 20th

The warm windy nights continue, this time it dropped to only 15.9°C. The moths have clearly grown tired of waiting for the wind to drop and are making the most of the warmth. There were 393 moths of 37 species. Large Yellow Underwings continue their autumn surge with 162 last night. There was another Box-tree Moth, another Clancy’s Rustic, three Delicates, a Rusty-dot Pearl and a late Nutmeg.

Although it has two spots that name is used for Golden Twin-spot this is ‘plain’ old Gold Spot.

Gold Spot. September 20th 2020. I Hunter

Saturday 19th

The north-easterly continues to bash along the coast. With warm air still around the temperature did not fall below a surprising 17.1°C. The catch was 152 moths of 19 species but what would it be without the wind?- we could well have at least equalled September records.

The catch did include two Delicates and a Dark Sword-grass.

The moth below is one of our favourite autumn moths. It comes in much pinker forms and I will add a photo when I get one.

Autumnal Rustic. 19/9/20. I Hunter

Friday 18th

The wind continues to make it feel cooler than the thermometer tells us (14.7°C) but there is still little moon. The car park trap was exposed and yielded 109 moths of 17 species. Autumnal Rustic (2) and Beaded Chestnut were new for the year. Mullein Wave and Brown-spot Pinion were bonuses.

A sensible visitor set up a few actinics in the shelter of The Elms and caught Palpita vitrealis, three Box-tree Moths, three Barred Reds, two Clancy’s Rustics, and a Red-green Carpet.

Thursday 17th

Although the temperature did not drop below 16°C a strong north-east wind limited moth activity.  The catch was only 94 moths of 16 species. This did include another Golden Twin-spot and a Diamondback.

We have recently had confirmation that a plume caught in mid-July was our first record of Dingy White Plume. This and one or two other species at the same time, such as Small Purple-barred are not typical residents here but do occur on the Downs where plants such as Wild Marjoram occur. The weather was very hot at the time and they may have wandered in those conditions.

Wednesday 16th

With some cloud and warm air the temperature did not fall below 15.8°C. With the forecast as it was two traps were operated. The car park trap held 386 moths of 55 species and the feeders trap held less moths but more species. The most frequent species was Square-spot Rustic with 127 in the car park and 106 by the feeders. Highlights included (feeders trap in brackets);

Convolvulus Hawk-moth 1, Delicate 1 (1), Vestal 1 (3), Diamondback 1 (5), European Corn-borer 8 (15), Nephopterix angustella 1 (1). The feeders also had two Dusky-lemon Sallows and a Hoary Footman. The car park trap had the first Feathered Ranunculus of the autumn. The late run of Oblique-striped 2 (1) and Oak Hook-tips 1 (2) continued.

The highlight was the first ever record of the pyralid Anania verbascalis.

Anania verbascalis. 1st Observatory record. 16/9/20. I Hunter

Tuesday 15th

The forecast warm plume of air is slowly heading this way with the minimum up to 12.6°C. The total catch was up to 291 moths of 42 species. It is difficult to see if there was any immigration as a result of the weather though. Yes there was a Convolvulus Hawk-moth but it was in fresh condition and could have been local, there were also two Dark Sword-grasses. There was the first Pink-barred Sallow of the autumn, two GoldenTwin-spots and five L-album Wainscots. Also of note were late broods of three species of China-mark – Beautiful, Ringed and Small.

On the outside of the trap were six Western Conifer Seedbugs.

Monday 14th

A cooler (8.4°C), clear and calm night produced 197 moths of 30 species. Considering we have only two very small Box bushes in the observatory garden it is surprising they have not been destroyed by Box-tree Moth of which there was another example last night. There was also a very worn Silver Y and a late brood Oak Hook-tip.

Sunday 13th

The minimum is creeping up slowly and was 10.1°C last night. The catch went up to 364 moths of 50 species. Two Brown-spot Pinions were new for the year. Otherwise it was a case of the usual suspects , including 105 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, plus late broods of regulars such as Willow Beauty (seven), Least Yellow Underwing (two), Burnished Brass and Spectacle. There were four Delicates, a European Corn-borer and a Golden Twin-spot.

Saturday 12th

The forecasters have hinted it might warm up and last night there was a slight increase of the minimum to 9.1°C. The catch went up to 277 moths of 37 species. There was a new Clancy’s Rustic, a very worn Dark Sword-grass and two Delicates. Setaceous Hebrew Characters were most numerous with 105.

Friday 11th

Clear conditions last night ensured the temperature dropped to 6.2°C. The catch fell to 147 moths of 21 species. Final confirmation that it was autumn was provided by the first Lunar Underwing of the year. There was also a Clancy’s Rustic.

Thursday 10th

More clear spells and the temperature dropped to 11.3°C. The catch was 292 moths of 37 species. Square-spot Rustic took the lead with 82. Black Rustic was new for the year and there was the second Frosted Orange of the autumn.

Feathered Gothic. 10/9/20. I Hunter
Frosted Orange. 10/9/20. I Hunter

Wednesday 9th

Clearer skies at times last night and so the temperature was a bit lower at 14.3°C. The catch reduced a bit as well to 350 moths of 47 species. Large Yellow Underwing resumed top spot with 92. There were two Silver Ys and single Dark Sword-grass and Diamondback. Given the continued north and or west in any breeze, plus the freshness of the moths, they are highly likely to be local progeny. There was also a single example of the autumn brood of Dark Arches.

Tuesday 8th

A complete cover of cloud ensured the temperature did not drop below 17.3°C. Not surprisingly the catch increased to 480 moths of 52 species. There were no new species for the year and no Golden Twin-spots which was a surprise considering their recent showing. Setaceous Hebrew Characters led the way with 144 closely followed by Large Yellow Underwing at 124. Red Underwings continued their good showing with another example as did a single Oblique-striped.

Monday 7th

Very similar conditions overnight but a slight increase in catch to 130 moths of 26 species. This included the first Clancy’s Rustic of the autumn, a second Centre-barred Sallow, two Golden Twin-spots and the next generation of Lesser Yellow Underwing.

The Hummingbird Hawk-moth was still around the Buddleja.

Sunday 6th

Last night was calm but cool with the temperature down to 8.6°C. The catch dropped to just 92 moths of 20 species, a dramatic change compared to the night before. There was a Silver Y, a Delicate and another Golden Twin-spot.

In the evening there was a Hummingbird Hawk-moth nectaring on one of the few remaining Buddleia flowers.

Saturday 5th

Despite a clear finish to the night there was cloud and even some rain before that and the catch increased to 555 moths of 58 species. Red Underwings continued their run with another example. There were two very fresh Diamondbacks. Feathered Gothics and Pale Mottled Willows both increased to 12. Four more Golden Twin-spots put in an appearance, all of the standard not the fused form. Of note these days were two Mouse Moths.

I regularly get reports at this time of year of Convolvulus Hawk Moths found resting on sheets drying on washing lines but today there was one by the St George’s footpath on a white painted footpath marker. If it had just moved a couple of inches it would have been on unpainted stone and almost invisible.

Convolvulus Hawk-moth by S.North

Friday 4th

Hot on the heels of finding Toadflax Brocade larvae on the Purple Toadflax at the Observatory, a passing glance at Common Toadflax growing along the Worth track revealed more of the colourful caterpillars. A male Vapourer was also flying around in the sun along the edge of the Great Wood on Worth marshes.

Toadflax Brocade larvae by S.Walton

Thursday 3rd

A covering of cloud kept the temperature above 14.8°C but the moths did not respond. There were only 70 of 30 species. The Feathered Gothic emergence continued with another eight last night. Also of note was a Beautiful Hook-tip and the distinctively coloured Oncocera semirubella.

Wednesday 2nd

The sky remained clear and it was the coldest night of the autumn so far with the temperature down to 7.1°C. That and a very bright moon dropped the catch to 71 moths of 21 species. Flounced Rustic beat Setaceous Hebrew Character 25 v 11. Two Feathered Gothics were new for the year.

The dark form of Box Moth. If you move it in the light it really shows its colours.

dark form of Box Moth. 31/8/20. I Hunter

Tuesday 1st

The sky cleared and a very bright moon out competed the moth trap. There were 105 moths of 28 species. This included another Red Underwing, a Delicate and an Oblique-striped.