Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Crowborough Moths, July 2014

Argyresthia goerdartella.  Argyresthiidae.   Crowborough, July 2014.
Argyresthia goerdartella.  Argyresthiidae.   Crowborough, July 2014.
 I was able to set out my light trap overnight in Crowborough in July.  It was in a garden in the edge of the countryside and I got lots of nice moths, though nothing rare or unusual.  This Argyrestha is a tiny golden beauty that glints from the trap and can be found all over the place at this time of year.

Peppered Moth, Biston betularia.  Geometridae.   Crowborough, July 2014.
Peppered Moth, Biston betularia.  Geometridae.   Crowborough, July 2014.
This Peppered Moth is much larger and very conspicuous in the trap.  It is the species that is often used, incorrectly, as an example of natural selection.  The idea sounds great, with dark forms suddenly becoming common during the industrial revolution, but actual evidence of disguise against a dark background being a survival factor has not been forthcoming.  This is the most common form, and its foreshortened outline and peppered appearance is unmistakeable.

Oak Hooktip, Watsonalla binaria.  Drepanidae.  Crowborough, July 2014.
Oak Hooktip, Watsonalla binaria.  Drepanidae.  Crowborough, July 2014.
The Hook-tips also have a distinctive shape, living up to their name.  This is the one I see most often, oaks being common in this area, and in Crowborough too.

Knot Grass, Acronicta rumicis.  Noctuidae.  Crowborough, July 2014.
Knot Grass, Acronicta rumicis.  Noctuidae.  Crowborough, July 2014.
This was new to me.  There are several rather similar Acronictas and care is needed to distinguish them.  You can clearly see the black circles which are typical of the family Noctuidae - they almost all have round, or roundish, markings in that position, and a more kidney-shaped mark lower down which is quite vague and faint in this species.

Lesser Swallow Prominent, Pheosia gnoma.  Notodontidae.   Crowborough, July 2014.
Lesser Swallow Prominent, Pheosia gnoma.  Notodontidae.   Crowborough, July 2014.
This one is unmistakeable.  There is also a slightly larger Swallow Prominent, but I have never seen one.  All the Prominents have big crests on their thoraxes.

So, I thought I had a good selection.  I have seen most of these moths in my Hayes garden trap, but not all at the same time or in such numbers.  I am hoping to go back again in August!

This is the trap itself, in the back garden:

Skinner 15 watt actinic moth trap in Crowborough.  27 July 2014.
Skinner 15 watt actinic moth trap in Crowborough.  27 July 2014.
All the kit fits into that shopping bag on the right, making it truly portable, and the battery lasts all night.

This was taken at 5:06 am, around first light, and it wasn't very bright.  The iPhone 5S took it at ISO 400, and the result when seen at full size is full of artifacts and lacking in detail.  Even reduced, like this, look at the top left to see what I mean.  That's an interesting comparison with my main Canon cameras, on which ISO 400 is indistinguishable from anything less, and I regularly use ISO 1000.  But the iPhone gives great results with enough light.

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