After a quiet start to the month Latticed Heath, Water Ermine, Heart and Dart and Small Square-spot were trapped on the 4th; as with several species this spring the Water Ermine and Small Square-spot were the earliest on record here. Remarkably, of the 83 macro species recorded so far this year 50% have been earlier than previously found.  White-point, Sharp-angled Peacock and Treble Lines were trapped on the 5th, followed by Clouded Silver on the Estate on the 7th and Yellow-barred Brindle, Flame, Common Carpet, Lesser Treble-bar and Common Wainscot the following night.

White Spot by Ian Hodgson
White Spot by Ian Hodgson

The 8th produced first records for the year of White Ermine and Purple Bar, plus a WHITE SPOT, a species new to the Observatory. It feeds on Nottingham Catchfly Silene nutans, the nearest colony of which is to be found on the cliffs this side of Dover. Small Elephant Hawk-moth, Obscure Wainscot, Vine’s Rustic, Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet and White Colon on the 9th brought the macro total for the year to exactly 100. However, the most remarkable moth of the night was a Muslin, patterned like a female on one side and a male on the other (photo by John van der Dol).Gynandromorph Muslin May14 JVDD small



 Mother Shipton and Grass Rivulet were found during daytime on the 11th, Green Carpet was recorded on the 12th, followed by Common Swift on the 13th, our earliest ever Cream-spot Tiger on the 14th, Marbled Minor on the 15th and only the Obs’ third record of Scalloped Hazel on the 16th, its previous appearances having been in 1983 and 1985. Other new macros for the year the same night were Scorched and Garden Carpets, Eyed Hawk-moth, Buff-tip and Light Brocade. The 17th produced Common White Wave and Shears, while Snout, Yellow Shell, Brown Silver-line, Lead coloured Pug, Grey Pine Carpet and  Small Fan-foot were all found during daytime on the 18th.

An overnight session on the 18th produced the best total of the year so far; 245 moths of 55 species including Light Emerald, Orange Footman and Poplar Grey, but the 19th exceeded all expectations with a near-record catch for May of 368 moths of 96 species, no fewer than 19 of the macros being new for the year. The most notable were Maiden’s Blush, Mottled, Freyer’s and Shaded Pugs, Clouded-bordered Brindle, Chamomile Shark, our earliest ever Pine Carpet and Silver-ground Carpet, while a second Scalloped Hazel for the spring was also notable. This outstanding spell continued the following night when over 400 moths included another 10 new macros for the year, including our earliest ever Common Marbled Carpet, plus Elephant Hawk-moth, Fox Moth, Small Seraphim, Gold Spot, White-spotted Pug, Willow Beauty and Burnished Brass.

Torrential rain prevented any trapping on the 21st but the 22nd produced Lychnis, Small Clouded Brindle, the rather scarce Cypress Carpet, only recorded here on three previous occasions, and Pale Tussock. The following night brought first records for the year of Green Silver-lines, a species that seems to be increasing in frequency locally, Straw Dot, Green Pug and Tawny Marbled Minor, while Foxglove Pug was trapped on the 24th and Dingy Shell was found the following day. Wormwood and Currant Pugs were recorded on the 25th and on the 26th an excellent catch of over 460 moths included Maple Prominent, Broad-barred White and Light Arches, taking the macro total for the year so far to 167, equalling the largest end of May macro total at the Bay.

Satin Wave was recorded on the 27th, followed by Scorched Wing and Sandy Carpet in an outstanding total of over 600 moths on the 29th. A similar number the following night contained Ash Pug, Single-dotted Wave, Shark and Bird’s Wing, while the Bay’s first record of the very attractive micro Alabonia geoffrella was found on brambles along the Ancient Highway during daylight. An excellent month concluded with Shoulder-striped Wainscot on the 30th and, on the 31st, Drinker and only our third ever record of Large Nutmeg, previously recorded in June in 1994 and 2004.