Monday, 19 September 2016

Quiet Everywhere

I ran three MV lights on chalk grassland above Princes Risborough, Bucks again last night because it had been a reasonably warm day and the minimum overnight temperature was forecast to be 14C with some cloud cover.  Needless to say, the forecast proved incorrect and by 10pm the skies had cleared to reveal a bright moon, the temperature then plummeted and moth activity dried up.  However, up until 10pm there had been a fair amount of action so it was a worthwhile visit and I came away with 44 species, not a fantastic total but acceptable in the circumstances.  Orange Sallow was the moth of the night, with 38 individuals caught (the third highest species total behind Setaceous Hebrew Character and Square-spot Rustic).  Unexpected second broods included Pandemis cinnamomeana (10) and Pretty Chalk Carpet (4), all fresh individuals, while the only 'migrants' were Plutella xylostella (3) & Dark Sword-grass (1).  One other moth worth a mention was a Cypress Pug but they seem to be turning up quite regularly in Bucks these days.

Orange Sallow, Princes Risborough 18th September

Pandemis cinnamomeana, Princes Risborough 18th September

Back home at Westcott, Bucks the garden actinic trap has been quite quiet for the past week and nothing further has been added to the year list.  Last night's selection (90 moths of 15 species) was fairly typical, including just two individuals of Lunar Underwing.  It and the other autumn species seem to rely to a large extent on ivy blossom as a source of food and the flowers are only just starting to open here.  The little Water Veneer Acentria ephemerella doesn't seem to want to give up this year and eleven of them appeared at the trap last night, the highest total this month and the latest date I've recorded it.  The one below must be a particularly hardy specimen because, unusually, it survived until this morning!

Acentria ephemerella, Westcott 18th September

Back on 16th September my eyes were drawn towards an odd-looking triangular arrangement of branches on a young birch in our garden and closer inspection showed the culprit to be a Peppered Moth caterpillar.  Measuring 6.5cms, it must be nearly fully grown.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks              


  1. Wow, that's a lot of Orange Sallow's. Don't think I've ever seen more than two in a trap before. Were you under some mature limes? I had my first the night before last as well, at CEH where there are lots of limes but where I only ever see the odd Orange Sallow.

  2. Like you, it is a moth I've only ever seen in small numbers (3 was my previous highest total in one trap, at Waddesdon Manor in 2009). We've got a mature lime here in the garden and they also surround the church just up the road yet I don't get more than one or two examples of the moth per year (and some years it doesn't appear at all). This was exceptional and, while they appeared at all three lights, the one closest to the Whiteleaf Hill woodland was definitely favoured. This is typical Chilterns beech woodland. There are other species mixed in (I've noticed sycamore and oak) but I'm not aware of having seen any limes there at all, so I might go back in daytime before leaf-fall to have a look.

  3. How very odd! perhaps there's a Small-leaved Lime in there somewhere and they prefer that to other Lime species? I've always been surprised at how few I see in areas dominated by Common Lime. Interesting stuff.

    1. Have subsequently found out that there is a lime plantation on the edge of the reserve. Not sure if it is vulgaris or cordata but it does explain a lot!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.