Friday, 14 November 2014
As the weather closes in for winter and the days get shorter and darker and so making it more difficult (and less enjoyable) to get out with the camera I thought that it was time to knuckle down and do a series of posts showing some of the photographs that I’ve taken over the past few months.
So, here’s the first instalment…I hope you don’t get bored?
Day Flying Moths (part 1)
What determines a day flying moth? Some moths are quite obviously day fliers, flying whenever the sun shines, just like butterflies. Others, that don’t normally fly by day, will readily take to the wing on being disturbed from their roosting site as we walk through the grass or brush against bushes etc.
Common Tubic (Alabonia geoffrella) (656)
A micro moth with a wingspan of 20mm. Flies during early morning sunshine from May to June and can be found in deciduous woodland and along hedgerows and areas of scrub.
Common Nettle-tap (Anthophila fabriciana) (385)
This very abundant, it can be found throughout the world, micro moth has a wingspan of 15mm and as it’s name suggests can be found anywhere that nettles grow. On the day I took this picture there were hundreds of them, swarming over every Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) plant that I walked past. They fly from April to November.
Small Barred Long-horn (Adela croesella) (151)
This tiny micro moth has a wingspan of around 13mm and can be seen flying on sunny days during May to June. It’s antenna are slightly longer than the wings. It can be found in a variety of habitats including woodland margins, scrubland, fens and marshes.
Yellow-barred Long-horn (Nemophora degeerella) (148)
This micro moth is common in England and Wales and flies in dappled shade and at dusk from May to July. It’s long antenna are almost four times the length of the males 10mm long forewing. It can be found in (damp) woodland, hedgerows, fens and marshes.
Common Marble (Celypha lacunana) (1076)
This common micro moth is readily disturbed from it’s roosting place during the day. It’s wingspan is around 20mm and it flies from May to early November. It has a wide ranging habitat from woodland and hedgerows to meadows, marshes, roadside verges and gardens.
Small Purple and Gold (Mint Moth) (Pyrausta aurata) (1361)
A very common micro moth, except in Scotland where it’s rare. It has a wingspan of 18mm and flies in sunshine from March to early September. Can be found on chalk and limestone grassland and in gardens and wetlands especially were there is an abundance of it’s food plant..Mint, Calamint and Marjoram, hence it’s secondary name.
Common Purple and Gold (pyrausta purpuralis) (1362)
Similar to p.auralis above but the gold band across the wing is usually split into three and the wingspan is slightly bigger at 22mm. It is also found in the same habitat and flies in sunshine and at night from late March to early September.
Wavy-barred Sable (Pyrausta nigrata) (1366)
Again similar to the two moths above but instead of being predominantly purple the 8mm long wings are black. It flies in sunshine from mid April to October and can be found on chalk grassland.
Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria) (1952)
A macro moth that flies by day especially when it’s been disturbed from it’s resting place in the long grass on heathland, moorland or chalk meadows. Flies between May and June and sometimes as late as August. It is very variable in colour and pattern and has a wingspan of 30mm.
Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata) (1958)
This macro moth flies at dusk, from May to early July, but will also take to the wing if disturbed during the day. Habitat includes woodland, parks, scrubland, hedgerows and sometimes urban gardens. It is quite a large moth with a wingspan of 33mm.
Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) (2069)
The red and black markings of this moth make it easy to spot. It is widely distributed, and flies in the sunshine from mid May to early August in open habitats including well drained rabbit grazed grasslands, sand-dunes and heathland. It’s long flight period means that you often see adults on the wing next to the distinctively marked (black and gold hoops) fully grown caterpillars that can be seen feeding on Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea). This is a large moth with a wingspan of 46mm.
Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica) (2463)
Another large moth, with a wingspan of 30mm, can be seen flying on sunny and warm overcast days. It normally only flies for short distances where it will settle with it’s forewings slightly open exposing the bright orange ‘flash’ on the hind wings. The flight period is from mid May to early July in calcareous grassland including flower rich meadows, woodland rides and embankments.
Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis) (2474)
Another ‘night flier’ that is easily disturbed by day this macro moth has a wingspan of 30mm. In the south of England (south of Yorkshire) it has two flight periods from June to July and August to October. Further north it only flies between June and August. It’s preferred habitat is tall damp grassland, marshes, fens and heathlands.
Chimney Sweeper (Odezia atrata) (1870)
This large moth, with a wingspan of 30mm, gets it’s name from it’s entirely black colouring (except for the white fringe around the tip of the forewings when newly emerged). More common in the north of the country it only occurs locally in the south where it’s preferred habitat is chalk downland, old hay meadows and unimproved grassy areas, in the north it frequents the banks of streams and other damp places. It’s a strong flier but usually only flies for short distances and rarely settles for any length of time, making it rather difficult to photograph! The flight period only lasts from June to July.
I hope you found this post interesting and I think you’ll agree that, although they are not as conspicuous, the colour and variety of our moths compares well with that of our butterflies?
In part 2 I’ll feature some of our larger day flying moths.