Thursday, 10 July 2014


Mothing enthusiast Chris Williams visited Mersea from his land-locked county of Shropshire to look for some of the typical coastal species of Essex. This was his second visit to the Island in the space of three weeks and this time I joined him for the evening at Maydays saltmarsh on the north side of the Island on Tuesday 8th.

Pictured above is my Robinson moth trap out on the saltmarsh just before dusk with my other trap inside the seawall, both powered by a portable generator. Chris was a short distance away with his four traps on both sides of the seawall. We checked the tide times, as one of Chris' traps last time got a wet bottom in the middle of the night during high tide.

The ground lackey was one of the target moths which began arriving at the traps shortly after dark. Pictured above is one of the males which turned up at one of the traps. At least a dozen were noted, both inside the seawall as well as on the saltmarsh.

One of two female ground lackeys were also seen, bigger than the males and with a richer brown colouration.
Ground lackeys are nationally scarce and found on the saltmarsh areas of the south-east of England where the caterpillars feed on a variety of saltmarsh plants such as sea lavender.

The rosy wave was another uncommon species found in two or three of the traps at Maydays. It's a delicate creamy-white moth with a supposed rosy tint to the wings, although this wasn't apparent on the night. The thin darkish band can just be seen across the wings.
The moth is found in damp and marshy habitats where here on the coast it will use sea beet as the foodplant.

The sulphur pearl, also known as Sitochroa palealis, was seen in a couple of traps. It's main foodplant is wild carrot of which there are lots around the Mersea seawalls. The moth was first noted on the north side of the Island twenty years ago by the late Joe Firmin during one of his daytime walks.

Around forty species of macro moth were noted in my two traps up until about 12.30am. Other species noted included the festoon, buff arches, common emerald, green pug, shaded broad bar, magpie, clouded border, elephant hawkmoth, poplar hawkmoth, yellow-tail, brown-tail, dingy footman, common footman, scarce footman, round-winged muslin, clay, common wainscot, angle shades, dun-bar, double square spot, fen wainscot, silver-Y and a spectacle.

Chris Williams also trapped the scarce crescent-striped moth and two garden tiger moths.

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