Tales From The Trap - March 2013 Week 3


Very little activity in the moth trap since my last blog, some recorders who would normally record all year round still haven’t switched their traps on at all as it’s so cold.

Still, Oak Beauty Biston strataria,March Moth Alsophila aesculariaCommon Quaker Orthosia cerasiHebrew Character O. gothica are showing in my garden moth trap up the road but less than a handful each time when they do show. This coming weekend is looking bleak but I do hear on the grapevine that dizzy temperature of 13C may hit next week! If so… 

The ‘Orange Underwings’

Do you have any birch or aspen near you? When the weather does warm up you may wish to look for Orange Underwing Archiearis parthenias around birch and Light Orange Underwing Archiearis notha around aspen, both day-fliers.

Orange Underwing is widespread in England, Wales and central Scotland and flies in sunshine around birch. The much scarcer Light Orange Underwing flies around aspen, its distribution is very patchy in the south of England although may be under-recorded elsewhere. However, do be careful if you have both birch and aspen reasonably close together where Light Orange Underwing may be found, you may need to take a closer look at the moths than just a cursory glance of an insect flying 30-feet or more up in the canopy. 

Always, if at all possible, try to get a confirmed sighting and don’t assume just because you see a moth-like insect around aspen it must be Light Orange Underwing or Orange Underwing around birch for that matter. It took me two days sitting under aspen last March (2012) in Wimbledon Common (where Orange Underwing is common throughout) to confirm Light Orange Underwing by waiting for a male to alight low down so I could see its feathered antennae through binoculars. The records would’ve been rightly rejected by the Surrey County Moth Recorder if I couldn’t confirm this distinguishing feature.

Moth Groups

Are you a member of your local moth group? Did you know most counties throughout the UK have one? If not, you may wish to ‘Google’ (other search engines are available!) “{your county} moth group”. Most now have websites with lots of local information including contact details, species information, latest sightings, photos, field event calendars and many other useful pages and links. Some counties are lucky enough to have webmasters that have designed websites with all the bells and whistles like distribution maps, flight charts and the like. Have a look and consider getting involved with your local moth group.

That’s all for this week, now where’s my fleece and woolly hat!

Les Hill

Senior Data Manager, National Moth Recording Scheme and Dorset County Macro-moth Recorder

Follow on Twitter - @DorsetMoths