Tales From The Trap - December 2012 Week 1

Trap

Welcome to “Tales From The Trap”, the new weekly blog taking a light-hearted look at the moths recorded from the BC Towers moth trap!

The ‘Towers Trap’ sits in a sheltered corner of Butterfly Conservation’s headquarters in rural Dorset. The site is just miles from the beautiful Lulworth Cove and is surrounded by rolling heathland and thick woods.

This location means we get a plethora of unusual migrants as well as rarer resident moths. Highlights have included the majestic Clifden Nonpareil (Catocala fraxini), the giant Convolvulus Hawk-moth (Agrius convolvuli) and rarities such as Barred Tooth- striped (Trichopteryx polycommata) and the Dewick’s Plusia (Macdunnoughia confusa).

The trap is presided over by the indomitable Les Hill – no moth is too obscure or  too small for our moth man to identify.  Les is Dorset County Macro-moth recorder and Senior Data manager for Butterfly Conservation. You can follow him on Twitter  @DorsetMoths.

Les explains: "My mentor, George E. Higgs of Milton Keynes once said to me 'Opening a moth trap in the morning is like Christmas every day. You never know what you may find!' How true, there is always that air of expectancy!

"The moth trap used is a Robinson-style Trap and utilises a 125 watt mercury vapour light bulb that emits ultra-violet light that is known to attract moths in greater numbers than a standard household light bulb.

"Our trap has seen many years of service as can be seen by the numerous repairs to the transparent cone! It is run whenever I’m available to check it the following morning, with all records being entered into our MapMate database.

"The trap was on all last week (26 November to 30 November) and not one moth was recorded! The weather didn’t help at all here and this alone was the reason for no moths

"Still, it is on again this week in hope of a rare migrant; Radford’s Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura leucogaster) was recorded at the Portland Bird Observatory (PBO) last night (www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk) the 3rd record for the Isle of Portland, the 8thDorset record and believed to be only the 25threcord for the British Isles (per PBO). So fingers crossed.

"The first records for the blog on 4th December are 4 December Moth (Poecilocampa populi) and a token single Yellow-line Quaker (Agrochola macilenta). I suspect with the weather forecast as it is for this week it isn’t going to get much better, but the moth trap remains on just in case!"