Sunday, 8 October 2017

Moths at the Butterfly Park

Brimstone Moth

On the night of 9th to 10th of September a moth trap was set up in New Ferry Butterfly Park to see what species could be found.

A Skinner trap was used with a 15W actinic bulb which was run from an inverter connected to a marine leisure battery, which proved to be more than suffcient to run the trap from sunset (around 8:30pm) to sunrise (at around 6:30am).

No rain was forecast for the night but for safety, the battery and inverter were housed in the Imago Hut and the trap placed on the track between the railway fence and the lime meadow.

Setaceous Hebrew character
Setaceous Hebrew Character

The night was mild, with slight cloud cover (partially obscuring the moon which helps with trapping) and with low winds.

The trap was checked at first light: some moths alight on the outside of the trap and are vulnerable to predation by birds.

The trap was quite full upon first inspection and there turned out to be ten species of moth in total. I addition, there were craneflies, caddis flies and a house spider!

Canary shouldered thorn 
Canary shouldered thorn

By far the most abundant moth was the large yellow underwing of which there were twenty in the trap. This is a very common moth and is often captured in large numbers in traps throughout the summer. There were also copper underwings (six in total), two each of setaceous Hebrew character, garden carpet and square spot rustic. There were single specimens of old lady, brimstone moth, canary shouldered thorn and common marbled carpet. A total of thirty seven moths were captured. All moths were identifed in situ using Waring and Townsend's 'Field Guild to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland' and were released alive in vegetation in the Butterfly Park.

It is hoped that trapping will be undertaken more frequently in 2018 to achive a full season of data.

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