Tales From The Trap - June 2014

Cinnabar list

We have hit the half-way mark for 2014 so it seems a good time to take stock and look at what we’ve had in the Butterfly Conservation moth trap so far this year.

By far the best has to be White Spot Hadena albimacula, a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) species. However, if the truth be known we do get this moth most years as it disperses from a known site nearby along the coast here in Dorset.

We’ve seen very little in the way of immigrants to date, with Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella being the only migrant to turn up in the trap here.  News has reached us that Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon and Silver Y Autographa gamma have arrived nearby (on Portland) in very small numbers.  I’m also very pleased with Dwarf Pug Eupithecia tantillaria which also appeared in my own trap up the road.

All in all, a better start than 2013 but not as good as it could’ve been. I suspect others may have different experiences. As the weather warms up more species will start to emerge.

Ingrailed ClaySmall Square SpotOne of the most confusing species for beginners is now flying, the seemingly infinitely-variable Ingrailed Clay Diarsia mendica (left), easily confused with its close relative Small Square-spot D. rubi (right).

These can be difficult for beginners to separate but with practice it becomes much easier – don’t be fooled by the fact one is lighter than the other in these photos as they both vary considerably.

Looking on Twitter and at Facebook moth group walls, it does seem that some recorders are having better luck. Check out the #moths hashtag on Twitter and it does seem as though the summer species are starting to appear in traps across the UK.

We’re getting a lot of emails from members of the public with respect to the Cinnabar Tyria jacobaeae wanting to know about the moth. This moth is on-the-wing both day and night and is unmistakable, the only similar moths are the day-flying burnet moths. The caterpillars are gregarious and will be seen from now onwards for a couple of months feeding on ragwort. These are the brightly-coloured, yellow-and-black caterpillars which can be seen in numbers in some areas. The adult and the caterpillar are distasteful to predators hence the warning colours as they take on the poisons from the foodplant.

Here’s the full list of all 108 species recorded at Manor Yard up to 1 June.

The sharp cookies amongst you might notice that we’re still using the old Bradley names at the moment as none of the recording packages have implemented the new names. I am reliably informed this will happen in due course.

Les Hill

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

Follow me on Twitter @DorsetMoths