Friday, 29 August 2008

Jersey Stripes.

The deluge of moths, mainly common species continued last night and my count of Large Yellow Underwings in the four garden traps came to 367. If I could invent a Large Yellow Underwing filter I'm sure I'd be able to sell one to every "mother" in the country!

The Jersey Tiger, above, had a wing span of about 5-6 cms and when the wings are open the underwings flash bright orange. The main population in the UK is on the Channel Islands, with a few colonies on the south coast, in Devon, Dorset and the Isle of Wight. There also a colony in Central London, but the origin of this population is debatable. I don't know if there is a local population or whether the three individuals I've caught have been migrants.

This Hedge Rustic had me fooled for a while and it was Nigel Jarman who identified the species, when he came round to photograph the Tiger. It's a Hedge Rustic, which despite its name is a moth of open grassland. I have caught on before, in September 2006. The caterpillars feed on various species of grass.

This little Pyralid has had a name change since my Barry Goater's book on the Pyralids was published. It was Pyrausta cespitalis then and now it's Pyrausta despicata. I find it hard enough to learn scientific names once, so changing them is a bit cruel. It's a small moth, with a wing span of about 14mm, and it was in 2003 that I recorded the only other one I've caught. The caterpillars feed on plantains and the favoured habitats included downs and cliffs, so it's not unexpected here.

The Wax Moth, above has an interesting life history. The moths live in beehives, and probably nests of other Hymenoptera, where it scuttles around when disturbed. The larvae feed on the honeycombs. When numerous the can do a great deal of damage to the hives and are classified as pests. They are less numerous than they used to be because of improved methods in bee-keeping. This was the sixth one I've caught here (from 2002 onwards), the last three being in 2006.

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