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29 August 2020

29 August 2020 – Moth Night 2020

Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)

It didn’t snow.  The wind lashed the acers and the rain caused the hollyhocks to lie flat, but it didn’t snow so we have something to be grateful for.  Setting the trap on the first of the three evenings assigned as National Moth nights would have been pointless and last night was certainly a little better – apart from the temperature plummeting.  The result was a handful of moths this morning.  

The Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) was one of the target species the organisers of the census had identified, along with any other examples from the same family.  Shandy Hall gardens have recorded a few varieties of Underwing but only four are regular : Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua fimbriata), Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes), Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe), Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea), Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa) and Red Underwing (Catacala nupta) are the ones that have been seen and recorded – the links should connect to the earlier records on the blog.

Last week I would have predicted at least a hundred Large Yellow Underwings would be found in the trap – last night there were but nine.  

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe)

 A second example of the same family is the Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe). The violet colour on the forewing is referred to in the scientific name noctua (by night); janthina (violet).  The caterpillar (which overwinters when half-grown) will feed on White Dead Nettle, Scentless Mayweed and Arum Lily amongst other shrubs and bushes.

Flame Shoulder (Ochroplura plecta)

A moth that is reliable with its markings and can’t really be incorrectly identified.  The scientific name means ‘the pale (or wan) twisted rope’: a reference to the cream-coloured streak that runs down most of the edge of the forewing.  Plecta comes from pleura the Greek word for a rib.  The larvae will feed on Groundsel and bedstraws and the adults can be found in a wide range of habitat from wetland to moorland and woodland.

Sallow (Xanthia icteritia)

The only bright colour to cheer an otherwise totally brown collection of moths is the Sallow.  It is a very pretty moth that can be encouraged to become a resident in the garden with food available to the larvae in the form of sallow and poplar catkins and also docks.  The scientific name is extraordinary and is recorded on the blogpost: Myth Moth.

Silver Y (Autographa gamma)

The Silver Y (Autographa gamm) is a regular visitor and is common throughout the country.  It can often be seen in daylight feeding on cat-mint (nepeta) and valerian and is a speedy and purposeful flier.  The ‘autograph’ Y can be seen (upside down) on the forewing.

The cold wind was the reason the numbers were so low.  There were 6 Feathered Gothic Moths, a couple of Setaceous Hebrew Characters, a Lunar Underwing, a Flounced Rustic and one solitary micromoth that disappeared like a flash when the trap was opened.