Early Spring Moths
- Date: Monday, 12 March 2012 10:21
Spring is in the air and some early spring moths have begun to emerge and begin flying. I've been keeping a lookout for moths throughout the winter and it has been quite surprising how many can be seen through even the coldest months. Different species emerge and fly at different times of the year with relatively few being active during winter, but still there are a number of particularly hardy species that fly on the occasional mild night. Moths, it is well-known, are often attracted to lights and by catching, photographing and releasing those that come to our house lights I have been able to identify a total of 6 species during December and January with a further 9 species added to the list during February.
- November (Epirrita dilutata agg.)
- Scarce Umber (Agriopis aurantiaria)
- Mottled Umber (Erannis defoliaria)
- Early (Theria primaria)
- Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria)
- Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii)
- Spring Usher (Agriopis leucophaearia)
- Pale Brindled Beauty (Phigalia pilosaria)
- Tortricodes alternella
- Agonopterix spp.
- Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata)
- March (Alsophila aescularia)
- Acleris ferrugana/notana
- Amblyptilia sp.
- Emmelina monodactyla
But rather than waiting for the moths to come to me, I've been making occasional forays into the coppice with the specific objective of finding and photographing moths in their natural habitat. This is not nearly so easy of course as most are extremely well camouflaged and choose to spend the day in holes and crevices that make them even more difficult to find. Plus they could be just about anywhere rather than being attracted to a single location. But as luck would have it I have managed to get photographs of three early spring moths not being attracted to light.
The first moth I found in this way was the aptly named Early Moth (Theria primaria). A rather plain grey moth which I've seen throughout December and January and on this occasion it was resting on the stem of a small tree.
The next is an image of a Chestnut Moth (Conistra vaccinii) with the intricate and beautiful patterns on its wings. This was taken at night by torchlight with the moth resting on the trunk of an oak tree.
The third was taken in daylight after I followed a flying moth disturbed by my footsteps until it came to rest on a bramble leaf. A "micro" moth just 12mm long, it is known by its Latin name, Tortricodes alternella, but like many British moths, even quite common ones, it has no English name. Although this is a very common species that I've often found attracted to the house lights, this is the first time I've been able to photograph it in its natural habitat.
I'm looking forward to seeing many more moth species as they begin to fly over the coming months.