Friday, 24 June 2016

Dolforwyn Woods 'Moth Night' event

Erecting the white sheet with the
help of Al - a visiting 'new moth-er'
from New Zealand

A view along the track
Setting up base camp

This event was held on Butterfly Conservations’ “Moth Night”, which this year had the theme of  “Hawk-moths”. The rain fell steadily throughout the day but cleared in the evening, so we were optimistic that we might catch one or two Hawk-moth species. The event was also in conjunction with Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, who where as usual represented by Tammy, who brought along a plethora of electronic devices for detecting bats. As the light faded Tammy led the 10 attendees on a walk through the woods listening for bat calls. Common and Soprano Pipistrelle bats were both recorded.
Blomer's Rivulet

Lime Hawk-moth
A total of 4 moth traps were used, with a 125W MV lamp and white sheet at ‘base camp’, 2 125W MV Skinners along the main track, and a 9W Actinic Heath trap at the top end of the track. The traps were switched on at 9.15pm, and it wasn’t long before the first moths arrived. Among the early visitors to the traps were a Map-winged Swift, a new species for this site, and then the first Hawk-moth of the evening, a Lime Hawk-moth.

Green Arches
'Lights on' for the white sheet

Ghost Moth
With a minimum temperature of 14C the moths were plentiful. Peter was kept very busy identifying the moths as they were returned to base, and at one stage we were nearly out of empty pots. Highlights were Blomer’s Rivulet, a nicely marked Beautiful Snout, and then the second Hawk-moth of the evening, Elephant Hawk-moth.

Clouded Magpie
The only migrant moth recorded was Plutella xylostella, the Diamond-back Moth, which has made the news recently as higher numbers than normal have arrived from the continent. As their food plant is brassicas this has led to sensational headlines about devastation of the cabbage crop. Only 3 were recorded during the evening, so I don’t think we need to be too concerned for the Abermule area harvest.

Ingrailed Clay
Around 1am the moth activity was starting to diminish, and we began to pack up. Last checks of the traps produced a few more species to add to the list, including Clouded Magpie and Little Emerald, a scarce species for the County, and the first time it has been found at Dolforwyn. 

Beautiful Snout
The Heath trap was left overnight on site. Heavy rain fell in the early hours resulting in a very soggy mush of egg boxes in the trap the next morning. Despite this a Poplar Hawk Moth and a Dagger had taken refuge in there, bringing the number of Hawk-moth species to 3, and the total number of species for the night to 54, of which 10 were new species for the site. A full list of species can be found here.


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