This last couple of weeks has been about the worst I can remember as far as mothing goes at this time of year. Since Sept 22nd I've missed 10 days because of the weather. Moths do fly when it's raining, but not as much, however it can get rather expensive if you end up having to replace some quite expensive lamps and other electrical gear. The last few days have been better and the collection of Autumn moths is always attractive.
The Delicate (Mythimna vitellina)
The Delicate is a migrant, with some appearing as early as the middle of July. Moths appearing now are possibly the offspring of these early arrivals, but may still be genuine wanders from the continent.
Barred Sallow (Xanthia aurago)
Barred Sallows are part of a group of moths which have very autumnal colours, almost matching the turning leaves on the trees. So far this year I've only caught this species and the similar but more geometrically precise, Centre Barred Sallow. There are another five that I have previously caught, but the weather may not be helpful. All but one have occurred as late as the end of this week in previous years, so there's still a chance.
Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata)
Red-green Carpets are a somewhat messy looking moth, and not very robust looking. This must be deceiving as they can be caught into November and then hey over-winter as adults reappearing in March and April. Today was a typical date for them to appear in the Autumn.
Blair's Shoulder-knot (Lithophane leautieri)
Another moth found flying in October and November, Blair's Shoulder Knot is a fairly recent colonist, first found in the Isle of White in 1951. It owes it spread to the comparatively new fashion for leylandii hedges that is the food plant of its caterpillar. The adult tends to stay still and look like a small piece of wood.
Beaded Chestnut (Agrochola lychnidis)
The Beaded Chestnut is a variable moth and can look quite like the Lunar Underwing below. However the Beaded Chestnut always has a dark hindwing and the Lunar Underwing a pale one with dark markings that give it its common name.
Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa)
Another variable species, ranging from yellow through to dark brown. The darker specimens usually show well marked pale lines and veins, but paler examples look quite similar to the species above, but have the distinctive hind wing.
Dewick's Plusia (Macdunnoughia confusa)
Every now and again there's a surprise in the moth trap. Last night, or rather this morning, this was it. The Dewick's Plusia is a rare vagrant, and this is the first I've caught. Nigel Jarman caught one a few days ago in Kingsdown, so I guess they are on the move. This is a very widespread species, from Europe east to Siberia and Japan and it is also found in Lebanon surrounding region. It's spread into Western Europe is fairly recent and the first UK record was in the 1950's. I haven't yet been able to find out the derivation of its name. Who or what was Dewick? The caterpillars feed on various plants, including nettles and yarrow.
Black Rustic (Aporophyla nigra)
The Black Rustic is a real Autumn moth, and one I've been waiting for. It's a few days late, but with the weather who can blame it hanging on a while! The earliest I've caught one is Sept 14th and the latest Oct 29th. Provided the weather allows trapping, it will be interesting to see if the late arrival also means an extended last date.
The Mallow (Larentia clavaria)
As the name suggests the main food plant is the Mallow, although the caterpillars will also feed on Hollyhocks. Oct 8th is a fairly typical date for its arrival, but its not around long, the 20th is the latest I've caught one.