Friday, 13 May 2011


The moth trap was operating through the nights of both Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th at the country park. The cream-spot tiger moth, pictured above, is one of the star attractions of a trapping session here during May and June. The moth is just as colourful above as it is from the underneath displaying it's striking markings and vermilion coloured body, as in the photo below.

One individual was in the trap on Wednesday morning followed by two in the trap the next morning. In previous years there have been half a dozen cream-spot tigers that come to the trap overnight. The moth is reasonably well distributed along the grassy coastline of Essex. During the day the occasional individual can get unwittingly flushed from the long grass, whereby its big wings flicker black, yellow and cream as it flies away.

This swallow prominent moth was the first of the season at the trap. It's a moth that prefers to stay very still during the day, relying on the long profile of its long wings with the swallow-tailed shape, to help it blend in with the tree trunk or branch its resting on.

Other moths noted included oak hook-tip, common swift, common carpet, red twin-spot carpet, latticed heath, marbled minor, poplar hawkmoth, white ermine, mottled rustic, pale prominent, coxcomb prominent, heart and dart and flame shoulder.

Whilst helping students from Writtle Agricultural College on Wednesday carry out a botanical survey of the saltmarsh near the East Mersea Point, three tight balls of these caterpillars of the ground lackey moth were found on Wednesday. I managed to count about 100 caterpillars in this ball and although I've seen the caterpillars on the saltmarsh before, I've only seen them as scattered individuals. The moth is restricted to saltmarshes mainly in the south and east of the UK and is listed as nationally scarce. The occasional adult turns up at the moth trap in early August.

The five regular eider were seen offshore from the park on Wednesday just after high tide. A turtle dove was heard singing from Bromans Farm on Thursday and 5 swifts were seen flying over the park on the same day. Small groups of swifts are now a regular sight over the skies of West Mersea, as more return from Africa.


RBr said...

It's been a couple of years since I last saw a Tiger Moth, thanks for the article.

Dougal Urquhart said...

It's always a highlight of a trapping session when a tiger moth drops in!