Garden moths 2021

It’s been fascinating seeing the successive waves of different night-time moths that visit our garden this year. Moths whose presence we are completely unaware of – until we find them in our trap on a morning. (N.B. All moths are released in the morning, once I’ve photographed them.)

The different numbers of moths in different months has been fascinating too. For example, I ran the trap on Monday night (27 September) and the next morning found only 4 moths in it, of two different species. Whereas there was a night in August (8 August to be precise) where, when I went out late in the evening to check on the trap, I was being literally mobbed by moths! I had moths flying into my eyes, my hair, my mouth (good job I had it shut at the time), on my clothes …

I didn’t start running the trap until July this year. The trap I use is a Heath trap (with a 40W actinic tube), that my dear friend and moth expert Dave Chesmore passed on to me. It looks like this:

Here are the moths I found on each of the five occasions I’ve run the trap this year. (With thanks to Dave Chesmore and @MothIDUK on Twitter for assistance identifying those moths that were beyond my powers of identification!)

18 July 2021

24 July 2021

1 August 2021

23 August 2021

27 September 2021

Highlights for me this year, were the Peppered moth (from 18 July):

Peppered moth in our York garden, 18 July 2021

the Scalloped Oak (from 24 July):

Scalloped Oak in our York garden, 24 July 2021

and the three Old Ladies (from 23 August):

Old Lady in our York garden, 23 August 2021
Old Lady in our York garden, 23 August 2021
Old Lady in our York garden, 23 August 2021

We hadn’t had these moths in our trap before. (We ran the trap several times last summer too.) The Old Ladies were whoppers!

Of course, the trap doesn’t only attract moths. Sometimes the other invertebrates in and on it are fascinating too. The morning we came across the three Old Ladies inside the trap, for example, we also found two interesting wasps on the outside. This one was helpfully identified by Gavin Broad on Twitter as ‘a species of Ophion, nocturnal ichneumonids which parasitise caterpillars’:

My most unexpected moth sighting of the year was on 10 September, when I was out for a walk on the University of York campus. This is what I saw:

On Twitter, @MothIDUK confirmed these were mating Large Yellow Underwings.

I shall be submitting records of all these moth sightings to my County Recorder for moths. You can find out who your County Recorder is here.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

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