3 June 2015

The Moths Are Coming!

The above gleeful tweet popped up on my Twitter feed - chance of migrant moths on Thursday night in the South East. Presumably this will be due to a warm front (hurrah) coming up from Africa and Spain sweeping moths along with it.

On 30th May they posted this:

I think it's lovely that there are people eagerly waiting for a wave of tiny papery moths to flutter over from far flung exotic lands. There is a romance about it. Particularly as to be a lepidopterist you have to sneak around at night setting traps of light. There is a poem in there somewhere.

As I understand it millions of moths appear in the UK each year, mostly in the autumn. We are at the edge of their climatic limit, in that during cold years fewer arrive, but it seems their appearances are increasing which may be proof of global warming (or global weirding). They don't necessarily come here to breed as migratory birds do. They may lay eggs but survival of our cold, wet winters is unlikely. Having said that some colonies are surviving such as the Clifden Nonpareil moth in Dorset.

To watch the migration wave as it happens you can follow this Twitter account @MigrantMothUK, or look at the flight arrivals page of Atropos, a UK journal for butterfly, moth and dragonfly enthusiasts. Being a dragonfly specialist sounds even more romantic than moths. Think of the jewel colours and the sun glinting on crystal clear water. Dreamy.

Back to the moths. The Bordered Straw moth is quite commonly caught.

The paler versions are thought to come all the way from the Sahara.
The Silver Y is another new arrival.

I am getting slightly anxious at the low numbers of any insect in Garden65 this year. I haven't been out setting traps or doing anything scientific but I'm getting the impression there are fewer bees and hoverflies. Even the pond skimmers look lonely. Hopefully there is a natural cause like a wet spring, rather than a woman-made reason like not growing enough insect friendly plants. Either way it is reassuring to know natural cycles on a continental scale are still providing excitement to dedicated lepidopterists.