Sunday, 24 November 2019

Torchlight Moth-ing

That time of year has come crashing towards us and the Moth-ing attire has changed suddenly from shorts and t-shirt to a jacket and wooly hat.
The plan last night was to go into the dark woods of Litcham Common with a torch and look for females....that doesn't paint a good picture Mr Police Officer, I know, but hey!
It was a still, mild night and even warmer in the shelter of the trees which was ideal. The trees were alive with invertebrates and it wasn't long before the first Moths were spotted - male Winter Moths on the trunks and Chestnuts, Feathered Thorns, Scarce Umbers and Epirrita species attracted to our headtorches.
A single Acleris logiana was nice addition and only the 5th County record this year (so far), the first being in the same spot, on Jan 1st, also found by us.

Acleris logiana

We also found a batch of Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua) eggs and a couple of Black Arches (Lymantria monacha) pupae. After previous attempts of mine before now, to find any of the 'Bagworm' species, we also managed to find Luffia lapidella on a lichen-covered tree as well, which is new for the site.

Black Arches pupa

Luffia lapidella (Grey Bagworm)


After much searching we finally found the main target - a wingless, female Moth. This unassuming lady was wondering around on a the trunk of an established Oak Tree and was bulging at the seams! We enjoyed her company for a while and tried to take a few pics but photography not easy in the dark with torches and flashes! After a few mins she went about her business of laying eggs of the next generation in the cracks and crevices of the bark. Up close, we could see the ovipositor probing each potential spot, being sure she is happy with the location before leaving an egg behind and moving on - it was a joy to watch.

Female Scarce Umber (Agriopis aurantiaria):







All in all, a successful evening. The next attempt in December awaits...

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