27 December, 2015

Christmas presents

Syncopacma polychromella - a minuscule long-distance traveller 

If you put a moth trap out in our garden in any month outside the period April-September, you're asking to be let down. The bright glow of overlooking street lights draws away the few moths likely to be flying, and even trapping in mild weather is unlikely to catch the most abundant of the late-flying species; Winter Moth itself has appeared in the garden on only two occasions in the past seven years!

This winter looks set to be different. Winds pushed straight up from sub-saharan Africa have blown with them warm temperatures and plenty of migrant moths, so I put the trap out in the garden on Christmas night on the off chance that Father Mothmas had a present or two in-store.

Morning came and presents there were. One each of Syncopacma polychromella & Crocidosema plebejana were tucked away amongst the egg boxes at the bottom of the trap. The Crocidosema is a late-flying species of tortrix only added to the Surrey moth list as recently as 1996 when one was caught in Chessington by ex-county recorder Jim Porter. The Syncopacma is just one of many to have been blown over from the continent recently, with over 40 individuals having turned up along the south coast in the past couple of weeks. This is quite an impressive turn-up considering that the 6th record of the species for Britain was only just caught in July by Steve Nash.

Both of these were unsurprisingly new to the garden, and another moth session in the garden last night produced this Oak Beauty - a whole two months earlier than my previous earliest record! Looks like it could be a very interesting winter...

Oak Beauty - normally a spring flying species, but enticed into early emergence by the warm weather.


Anne Hagman-Niilola said...

Interesting moth. Our moths are different.

Billy Dykes said...

Thanks Anne - whereabouts are you based? Moths are fantastically diverse!

Anne Hagman-Niilola said...

We live in Southern Finland, and those moths that you can see in my blog, are photographed in our yard.