Text by Pete Marsh
The theme this autumn is all about ivy blossom and the moths which can be found feeding there as soon as darkness falls on the nights of 12th, 13th and 14th . Therefore you don’t have to be a “hard core” moth trapper with MVs scattered all over the countryside (like myself) to take part in this year’s National Moth Nights.
Spend the next few weeks locating any ivy blossom in a location which can be safely accessed just after dark. Often this might be close to human habitation, including a boundary wall, so ask permission beforehand, especially from the Dobermann! You may find the owners interested in joining you and allowing you to check their side of the boundary.
Obviously a few ‘trial runs’ can be made in the next few weeks, especially in relation to ground conditions and making sure you are not
choosing a site near a huge wasps nest, which can be very active in mid-October, as they will also be present on the ivy bloom after dark and may head for your torchlight.
It is best to be armed with a head-torch (to keep both arms free), which will first reflect in the eyes of the feeding moths, allowing easy location. Some can be identified from “miles away”, for example, Angle Shades, but others may be in the “medium sized brownish” category, so best to take a net and specimen tubes and identify these when you get home.
Here is the final paragraph from the BC publicity: “At this time of year it can be a draw for migrant insects as well as resident species. In recent years birdwatchers on the Isles of Scilly have adopted this method of recording moths with particular effectiveness. You don’t have to be in such far-flung places to adopt this method of recording moths, however, and most places in the country should have ivy blossom within reach”.
There is also an opportunity to record other species during your daytime recce. For example, Ivy Bee Colletes hederae was recorded at both Sunderland Point and Heysham Head last autumn and there are several other records through the region of this scarce insect.
The species most likely to be recorded during your survey:
Plutella xylostella Diamond-back Moth
Endrosis sarcitrella White-shouldered House-moth
Emmelina monodactyla Common Plume
Epiphyas postvittana Light Brown Apple Moth
Acleris rhombana Rhomboid Tortrix
Nomophila noctuella Rush Veneer
Thera britannica Spruce Carpet
Chloroclysta siterata Red-Green Carpet
Dysstroma truncata Common Marbled Carpet
Epirrita dilutata November Moth
Scoliopteryx libatrix Herald
Hypena proboscidalis Snout
Autographa gamma Silver Y
Allophyes oxyacanthae Green-brindled Crescent
Phlogophora meticulosa Angle Shades
Xanthia togata Pink-barred Sallow
Agrochola lota Red-line Quaker
Agrochola macilenta Yellow-line Quaker
Agrochola circellaris Brick
Conistra vaccinii Chestnut
Conistra ligula Dark Chestnut
Lithophane semibrunnea Tawny Pinion
Lithophane socia Pale Pinion
Lithophane leautieri Blair's Shoulder-knot
Xylena vetusta Red Sword-grass
Eupsilia transversa Satellite
Griposia aprilina Merveille du Jour
Aporophyla nigra Black Rustic
Mythimna unipuncta American Wainscot or White-speck
Agrotis ipsilon Dark Sword-grass
Noctua pronuba Large Yellow Underwing
Xestia xanthographa Square-spot Rustic
Xestia c-nigrum Setaceous Hebrew Character
If you have not got any moth literature to help with identification, I recommend that you use the UK
Moths website and try and familiarise yourself with the species on the above list. There ARE other
possibilities, so anything you have difficulty with, please photograph and send to PMrsh123@aol.com
or the Lancashire Moths Facebook page.
Finally please do send your sightings in with a grid reference. Please could you send direct to
ourselves via PMrsh123@aol.com or alternatively please send directly to BC (rather than using
IRecord as this creates a bit of extra work extracting records). Thanks very much.