Friday, 4 October 2013


Having been away for the second half of September, I've been eager to get the moth trap going again at the country park for some late season moth species. There are some attractive resident autumn moths to be noted and the possibility of some continental immigrants turning up too if the weather is right. The moth lamp was on for Tuesday 1st when 85 moths of 20 species were noted followed by 110 of 26 species on the evening of Wednesday 2nd.

The most interesting moth on the 1st was this neatly marked male four-spotted footman pictured above - the first record for the park. It's a scarce immigrant and over recent nights there have been several reported from mainly coastal sites on the south and east coasts of England brought in with the southerly winds. The species is named after the female which shows the four spots on the wings.

Another first record for the park on the 1st was this feathered brindle which is also a rare immigrant on the Essex coast. There's a small resident population in the north-east of the county and the species is listed as an Essex Red Data species. I noticed that fellow moth-trapper Clive Atkins also trapped this species the previous night not too far away on the opposite side of the Colne estuary.

This dainty and delicate olive tree pearl ( Palpita vitrealis), was another interesting migrant in the trap on the 1st. The white wings of this micro-moth are so thin they're almost transparent but a strong flyer when it took to the air. This is the first record for the park. Quite a few have been reported in southern England over the last few nights, so a bit of an influx.

This pine carpet was another rare visitor to the trap, although it has been noted here a few years ago. It appears to be a scarce moth in Essex with only a few other records. There are some Scots pine trees here at the park so there could be the potential for breeding here.

Two or three nicely patterned flounced chestnuts have been in the trap this week, one pictured above.

This sallow moth is a common moth and one of the few "sallow species" whose caterpillars actually feed on sallow.

The striking black rustic pictured above has become a commoner moth in recent years. Half a dozen were in the trap on Tuesday night's session.

This red-green carpet is a pretty addition to the assemblage of moths, although this one was discovered resting underneath the wooden light base across the Skinner trap.

One or two autumnal rustics have been noted but this one caught the eye with the unusual pink tinge to the wings. Normally they're just a pale grey colour.

Another member of the sallow family, this barred sallow is a common moth in the autumn with its caterpillars here at the park probably feeding on field maple.

Other moths that were noted over the two nights included light emerald, brimstone, willow beauty, mallow, large yellow underwing, lesser yellow underwing, broad-bordered yellow underwing, square-spot rustic, setaceous hebrew character, white-point, L-album wainscot, beaded chestnut, rosy rustic, frosted orange, feathered gothic, lunar underwing, satellite, silver-Y, copper underwing, angle shades, feathered ranunculus and dark-brown dart.

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