Moth trapping

Last weekend I finally got my moth trap out of the garage. This was only it's second outing since I bought it at the end of last year. The first use was almost immediately after unpacking it and assembling it in November. It will come as no surprise to those in the know, that this wasn't a successful trapping initiative. Well the weather was promising a mild and dry night, so I trundled out there with the trap, plugged it in and retreated back to the house - more in hope than expectation.
Saturday morning revealed a damp morning, following some light rain earlier. This didn't inspire any confidence, but after an early breakfast I disappeared into the garage armed with the camera and a new copy of my Field Guide to Moths of UK and Ireland.

Turning over the first two egg trays revealed only a tiny mired bug, Scolopostethus decorates. It is only about 4mm long and I almost missed it in my expectation of finding hundreds of huge moths. It's normally associated with heather and heaths, being found throughout the UK.

The next discovery was an Early grey, Xylocampa areola. this was more like it. A moth in a moth trap! now I had found a moth, the main challenge was to get it off the egg carton. More difficult than I imagined it could be without damaging the little beast.

As it's name suggests this is one of the earliest moths, with a flight season between March and May. According to my guides it can be found in lightly wooded areas and gardens. The larvae feed on honeysuckle, which we have in the garden, so I'll have a hunt later on in the year to see if I can find anything.

Although it is commonest in the south, it can be found throughout the UK

Next discovery was a pair of Common quakers, Orthosia cerasi. Again this is a common and wide spread species. But I don't care, I've got moths in my moth trap.

The Common quaker has a wide range of lowland habitats, including woodland and gardens. The single generation flies in March and April. The larvae feed on Oak, Willow and other deciduous trees.

Then right at the bottom of the trap, and firmly attached to the egg case was a rather bedraggled Oak beauty, Biston strataria. You can see the tips of the wings are slightly damaged. The flight period is from February through to April, so this chap may have been around for a while.

Despite it's name the Oak beauty is not restricted to oak trees, and the larvae have been found feeding on elm, alder and hazel. But it is easy to imagine how effective the coloration might be on the variable bark of the oak.

Close up the "feathering" of the moth becomes more evident. The more I look at this the more fascinated I'm becoming, and I think I'll have to try some more close-ups in the future.