Moth trapping!

Last week the Rangers were out in the depths of night doing some moth trapping within Newton Wood at Roseberry Topping. We were joined by Dr Robert Woods, Conservation Officer for INCA (Industry Nature Conservation Association).

In total, 44 different species of moth visited our trap. Moth overload. Of those, particularly interesting were as follows.

The largest find of the night, a Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)…

Probably the commonest of our hawk-moths. Here posing on one of our legs and flashing its hindwings, showing a contrasting ginger patch, which is normally hidden. As its name suggests, the larvae often feed on poplar trees.

Our other hawk-moth find of the night, the locally common Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila porcellus)…

This beautifully coloured moth (PINK and GREEN) gets its English name from the caterpillar’s fanciful resemblance to an elephant’s trunk!

Another locally common find was a Scorched Wing (Plagodis dolabraria)…

The English name of this species is derived from the patches of hindwing which resemble, as again the name suggests, a scorched wing. Very distinctive once you notice it.

An intriguing find was the Peppered moth (Biston betularia)…

Peppered moths side by side

This is a common and widespread species but its evolution over the last two hundred years is very interesting. Originally, the vast majority of peppered moths had light colouration, which effectively camouflaged them against the light-coloured trees and lichens upon which they rested. However, due to widespread pollution during the Industrial Revolution in England, many of the lichens died out, and the trees which peppered moths rested on became blackened by soot, causing most of the light-coloured moths to die off due to predation. At the same time, the dark-coloured, or melanic moths – of the same species – flourished because of their ability to hide on the darkened trees.

Since then, with improved environmental standards, light-colored peppered moths have again become common, but the dramatic change in the peppered moth’s population has remained a subject of much interest and study. This has led to the coining of the term “industrial melanism” to refer to the genetic darkening of species in response to pollutants.


The most significant find was at the very end of our toils, whilst we were packing away – a Blomer’s Rivulet (Discoloxia blomeri)…

This a nationally scarce species, occurring sporadically throughout England and Wales in deciduous woodland habitats. It is regarded as important from a conservation perspective, both in its own right due to its nationally scarce status but also as a representative of a group of moths which are specialised feeders on elm at the larval stage.

So overall, a very good result from our first evening of moth trapping. Not only did it help us get more familiar with moths in general and their importance to us but we also got off to a good start in finding some of the species on our properties and had some fun in the process.

* NOTE to others. If you ever venture out into woodland at night to do some moth trapping, take some insect-repellent with you! We survived an onslaught of midges in the process of our mothing, resulting in some severe post trapping itching…

Fat hand!

Species List for Newton Wood, Roseberry Topping (NZ575127) from Moth Recording on  5.7.12
Taxon Vernacular Authority Individuals Status
Pandemis heparana Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common
Tortrix viridana Green Oak Tortrix Linnaeus, 1758 1 Common
Chrysoteuchia culmella Garden Grass-veneer (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Thyatira batis Peach Blossom (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Idaea aversata Riband Wave (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Xanthorhoe montanata Silver-ground Carpet ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common
Colostygia pectinataria Green Carpet (Knoch, 1781) 1 Common
Perizoma alchemillata Small Rivulet (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Discoloxia blomeri Blomer’s Rivulet (Curtis, 1832) 1 Nb
Plagodis dolabraria Scorched Wing (Linnaeus, 1767) 1 Local
Opisthograptis luteolata Brimstone Moth (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Biston betularia Peppered Moth (Linnaeus, 1758) 2 Common
Alcis repandata Mottled Beauty (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Campaea margaritata Light Emerald (Linnaeus, 1767) 1 Common
Laothoe populi Poplar Hawk-moth (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Deilephila porcellus Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Local
Pheosia gnoma Lesser Swallow Prominent (Fabricius, 1777) 1 Common
Eilema lurideola Common Footman (Zincken, 1817) 1 Common
Agrotis exclamationis Heart and Dart (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Ochropleura plecta Flame Shoulder (Linnaeus, 1761) 1 Common
Noctua pronuba Large Yellow Underwing Linnaeus, 1758 1 Common
Lycophotia porphyrea True Lover’s Knot ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common
Diarsia mendica Ingrailed Clay (Fabricius, 1775) 2 Common
Diarsia brunnea Purple Clay ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 9 Common
Xestia triangulum Double Square-spot (Hufnagel, 1766) 1 Common
Anaplectoides prasina Green Arches ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common
Polia nebulosa Grey Arches (Hufnagel, 1766) 8 Common
Lacanobia oleracea Bright-line Brown-eye (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Rusina ferruginea Brown Rustic (Esper, 1785) 1 Common
Euplexia lucipara Small Angle Shades (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Apamea monoglypha Dark Arches (Hufnagel, 1766) 1 Common
Apamea lithoxylaea Light Arches ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common
Apamea crenata Clouded-bordered Brindle (Hufnagel, 1766) 1 Common
Apamea epomidion Clouded Brindle (Haworth, 1809) 3 Common
Apamea remissa Dusky Brocade (Hübner, 1809) 1 Common
Oligia fasciuncula Middle-barred Minor (Haworth, 1809) 1 Common
Autographa gamma Silver Y (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Migrant
Autographa pulchrina Beautiful Golden Y (Haworth, 1809) 1 Common
Rivula sericealis Straw Dot (Scopoli, 1763) 1 Common
Hypena proboscidalis Snout (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Herminia grisealis Small Fan-foot ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common


Chris | National Trust

Chris | National Trust


One thought on “Moth trapping!

  1. Pingback: A spot of mothing | A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A RANGER

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