Home > Moths > 9 April 2019 – The Missing Chestnut

9 April 2019

9 April 2019 – The Missing Chestnut

Red Chestnut (Cerastis rubricosa)

The Red Chestnut (Cerastis rubricosa) is new to the garden.  It is a common moth and it is widespread throughout Yorkshire but it hadn’t been seen at Shandy Hall before.  How can this be?  Most probably because trapping tends not to be as active in this still chilly month.

Last night’s trap nearly didn’t take place but with the forecast being poor for later in the week I thought I had better seize the opportunity. On inspection just after 6am things did not look too promising. 

There were over 60 moths in the trap and I carefully went through them all to make sure they were all accounted for.  Here (photograph below) are the moths after they have been persuaded to leave the safety of the egg-boxes and have been transported to the base of the trap with a soft paint-brush.  Most remain in this semi-catatonic state and most are from just a few species – Hebrew Character, Common Quaker, Small Quaker and Clouded Drab – but three were different.

Moths caught in the trap

The three aren’t all visible here, but two are.  One is part of the cluster on the right and is a White-marked, the new visitor from last week putting in another appearance; the other is just inside the inner rim at about 6 o’clock.  That is the Red Chestnut. The rubricosa part of the name means ‘having the colour of red ochre’ – ochre being a clay mineral that is coloured by hematite, which derives its name from the Greek for ‘blood’.  Sanguine or red chalk writing is one of the earliest in man’s history.  This is a moth with the weight of history on its wings.

The fact that it flies only until the end of April probably accounts for why it has  been missed in the past as species can come and go quite quickly.  For example last week there were a number of Early Greys that came to the light – now there are none. 

There was one other individual – the overwintering Satellite moth which is one of the easiest to identify with its distinctive ‘dots’ or satellites on either side of the kidney mark.

Satellite (Eupsilia transversa)

We have already identified and recorded: Chestnut, Dark Chestnut and Beaded Chestnut. The ‘Red’ was the missing one and becomes species 437 for the garden.