26 January, 2014


Yes, it's that wonderful time of the year again! Your mates know it. Your neighbours know it. It was even trending on Twitter yesterday. If for some absurd reason you didn't know, Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies have started taking orders for the 2014 'Clearwing Season', and if you've never tried searching for any of the wholly un-mothlike Sesiidae family, why not make a start in 2014? 

Typically, these moths are very elusive day-fliers which rarely stray far from the cover of their footplant. Entomologists and people like Darwin in those black and white times about twenty years ago would have gone to great lengths to collect such specimens, which has ultimately led to gaping holes in the current known distribution of most members of the family. Luckily for us modern-day nutters, synthetic 'lures' are now widely available and provide a lazy hassle-free method of attract the superb males, assuming a lure is placed in suitable habitat. 

Gardens are often the best place to start looking, usually from mid-May onwards. Obviously, some species are more likely to turn up than others, and a lure in the wrong habitat is going to be useless. Do a bit of background research on the available footplants in your local area and the species you could realistically attract- especially if you don't fancy dishing out cash on every sex pheromone under the sun. I found that the 'MYO' (for Red-belted) and 'VES' (for Yellow-legged and Orange-tailed) lures worked a treat in my very average back garden...

Orange-tailed Clearwing coming to a 'VES' lure.  This species has historically been associated with Wayfaring tree chalk downland, but its increasing appearance in the garden is surely a sign that it copes well in cultivated, suburban environments. If you've got Guelder Rose anywhere nearby, give this one a go.

Red-belted Clearwing thrives in areas with a high-density of fruit trees. I first hung the MYO lure on our very small apple tree two years ago, and within seconds had six of these beauties flying around. 

This absolutely superb Red-tipped Clearwing was a surprise find near the VES lure, which was hung out in the garden a few summers ago in the hope of catching the two species below. Always expect the unexpected... 

Orange-tailed Clearwing up close. Without doubt one of the most fascinatingly weird lepidoptera families out there.  

Like the Orange-tailed above, Yellow-legged Clearwing is strongly attracted to VES lures. Providing you have a birch, or even better, an oak tree somewhere nearby, expect these gems. 

Said lures can be picked up from ALS here, and if kept well sealed in a freezer when not in use, can provide years of sexual excitement for all. Happy days!

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