Saturday, 25 July 2015


Members of the Essex Moth Group and friends, made their annual visit to the country park on Tuesday 21st to see what moths were flying around. Fifteen folk enjoyed a rewarding evening looking into the seven different traps placed in various locations near to the car park. The picture above shows the Skinner trap brought along by David Barnard.

The evening started slowly and despite the stiff breeze, the evening turned out to be the best night for the number of moth species logged. By 4am just before sun-rise, around 110 species of macro-moths had been identified - the best ever haul at the park in one night, mainly thanks to Ian Turner with his two traps who stayed till almost 2am! Folk pictured above are staring into the Gardiner trap, and Andy Field also brought his trap too.
The micro-moths came under scrutiny from Steve Rolls who logged 30 species and thanks to him for the list.

The big hawkmoths provide a bit of  awe and admiration to the session with this lime hawkmoth the first one to arrive. By the end of the night a pine hawkmoth, a couple of poplar hawks and a couple of elephant hawkmoths were logged.
Ian Turner logged one of the main target moths for the night - after the rest of us had finished for the night, a garden tiger. The second record for the year as one was also logged the previous week.

Other notable moths logged by Ian included a crescent-striped, 2 small mottled willow, archers dart, shark, starwort, olive, Mathews wainscot and ground lackey.

One of the most attractive macro moths is also one of the smallest - the rosy footman. Here this fresh specimen is a bright salmon pink colour with the fine black lines traced across the wings.

Several ruby tigers turned up in the various traps, although their bright red colour is more striking when seen in the daytime. It is a common moth in mid-summer whose caterpillars feed on various common plants like dock and plantain.

A couple of scarce green silver-lines visited one of the traps, their bright green colours suited to hiding amongst the leaves.It's quite a widespread moth in the county, the caterpillars feeding on oak.

Another "green" moth was this small emerald, this picture just a record shot as it sat on the edge of the trap. It has been recorded at the park only a couple of times before, so it's not particularly common here. There were several common emerald moths seen during the night.

By dawn a couple of thorn moths were seen, the early thorn and this one pictured, the purple thorn. Holding its wings half-open is a feature of the purple thorn, and although the lunar thorn does the same, this purple had the characteristic spot on the upper hind-wing.

Whilst a handful of us were watching over a trap, this delicate brown moth fluttered around the trap and was duly potted. The bordered white has been seen a few times at the park before but not in recent summers, so it was nice to see it on this night. It holds its wings like a butterfly at rest. It's foodplant is pine, and this trap was only a few metres away from some pine trees.

The big and fluffy looking drinker moth is a common moth and several turned up on the night. Their caterpillars are often seen at the park feeding on the grass, where they supposedly drink the dew off the grass in the morning - hence the name.

The scorched carpet was an unexpected visitor to the trap as it's not seen every year here. Although quite widespread elsewhere in the county, there are just three previous records here over the last nine years.

A freshly marked maiden's blush is one of the smartest of the common moths when it shows the red blush patches on each wing.

Some of the other moths noted included oak hook-tip, figure of 80, small scallop, green pug, wormwood pug, latticed heath, July highflyer, red twin-spot carpet, scalloped oak, swallow-tailed, pebble prominent, swallow prominent, coxcomb prominent, buff-tip, dinghy footman, buff footman, least yellow underwing, double square-spot, white-line dart, nutmeg, white-point, fen wainscot, poplar grey, knotgrass, lesser spotted pinion, lunar-spotted pinion, nut-tree tussock, bordered sallow, copper underwing, dot, cabbage, spectacle and silver-Y.

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