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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Confessions of a Beginner

"My mothing area lies south of Chiddingfold and almost in sight of the Sussex border. I started trapping  a couple of years ago because once the butterflies had disappeared I was faced with several months with nothing to see before they returned with the spring.  There is only so much excitement that can be generated by the sight of a solitary Red Admiral on a sunny winter's day.

Exactly a year ago I took 220 Small Quakers (Orthosia crudain) in my Heath trap with a 20w actinic bulb and over 100 in a Robinson. So far this year I've managed to take just 1 in about 10 nights trapping. 

Several of the usual suspects have appeared, the micro moth Tortricodes alternella commonly turns up, always making me think that at least one of the specimens taken should be something else and no matter what I do always too lively to pose for a photograph. Maybe for this photo of a Yellow-Horned (Achlya flavicornis) I should have taken a head-on police mug shot but he showed every indication of also wanting to escape.

I have a soft spot for the Brindled Beauty because it is the first moth that I ever photographed in its natural setting and so much more colourful in daylight  (Lycia hirtaria)

Small Brindled Beauty (Apocheima hispidaria)

But a more frequent visitor to the trap in January was the Pale Brindled Beauty (Phigalia pilosaria)

There have been a smattering of rather worn Chestnuts (Conistra vaccinii) the darker forms of which tempt me to identify them as Dark Chestnut (Conistra ligula). Maybe I'll be lucky enough to have one of each one night so that I can see the difference in the wing shape. The March Moth (Alsophila aescularia) has appeared in small numbers on several nights.

With a little luck and if the forecast is to be believed I might get another night suitable for trapping before the end of the month and  now that the Field Guide to the Micro moths of Great Britain and Ireland has been published as well as the Smaller Moths of Surrey, I almost look forward to a micro moth or two"

John R

Many thanks to local trapper, John, for sharing his brilliant early season catches. 

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