Posts Tagged ‘poplar hawk-moth’

Happy Natura 2000 Day …. moths & other matters?

May 21, 2014

The spate of sunny weather recently, with balmy evenings has been conducive to leaving out moth traps.  Whilst Actinic traps are not generally considered as productive in terms of range of species nor do they generally yield the volume that may visit Mercury Vapour light traps, they are however manageable on a regular basis and can help to build up a picture of the species present in your garden.

140520 2sp Swallow Pominent hrk 982

Lesser Swallow Prominent Pheosia gnoma and Swallow Prominent Pheosia tremula (above) seen together allowing comparison (even allowing for ‘shortening’ effect of image).  The more distinct white wedge of P gnoma is evident in the image above, see also that via UK Moths website.

140519 Common Swift hrk 926

Common Swift Hepialus lupulinus

140520 mPHM hrk 959

 Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi

140520 Chinese Character hrk 987

 Chinese Character Cilix glaucata

140521 Pale Tussock hrk 020

Pale Tussock (m) Calliteara pudibunda

Other species flying at the moment have included Blood Vein, Muslin Moth, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Pebble Hook-tip and Oak Hook-tip, White Ermine (actually a pale cream specimen), Buff Tip, Peppered Moth, Cinnabar but no sign of its foodplant Ragwort so it was clearly attracted to the light from a neighbouring agricultural area.

‘Campaign corner’:

Apparently today (21 May) is Natura 2000 Day!  Such sites are those which were designated under the Birds or Habitats Directive.  Thorne & Hatfield Moors are one (or two depending upon your interpretation) such local Natura 2000 site.  So, spare a thought for their future as the transition from National NATURE Reserves to Open Access changes the very essence of what local people fought to save.

How many of us will turn out and vote in tomorrow’s European Elections?  European and local council elections are not really top of most people’s agenda, yet it has to be said that there has been serious effort expended to generate interest and encourage turn out, see Mark Avery’s blog.  Lest we forget also that we can hardly grumble if we fail to register some endeavour.  Numerous campaign groups such as 38 degrees are also actively encouraging participation in politics.  Will the results be a barometer for 2015?  What is noticeable by its absence or at best low profile is the presence of environmental issues on politicians agendas.  The UK is bottom of the Natura 2000 barometer in terms of % of areas designated, but without Europe we would have no Natura 2000 sites.  The issue now for conservationists is how to persuade politicians bewteen now and the general election that the natural environment really is important, it is our legacy for future generations yet look around ….

Moth matters ….

September 15, 2013


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How many people (in the Humberhead Levels) can boast a garden moth list which has seven species of hawk-moth, so far this season?

Well, one contributor to the blog can and these latest images illustrate his most recent ‘tick’.


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Sphinx ligustri (L.) or named for one of its food plants, the Privet Hawk-moth (above) can be recorded in June and July.  It is also recorded from young woodland Ash saplings, lilac and guelder rose and occasionally holly and honeysuckle.   Overwintering underground as a pupa, sometimes to a depth of a foot or more!  The larval image at the top of this post, illustrates the quite stunning colouration and the distinctive ‘horn’ characteristic of hawk-moths.

Mimas tiliae (L.), another species named for its food plant is the Lime Hawk-moth illustrated below.   This species, a smaller one to the previous ‘giant’, is recorded from May to early July and larval food plants also include elms, downy and silver birch and alder.

130615 Lime Hawk Moth jh


The final image, is that of Laothoe populi (L.), Poplar Hawkmoth another relatively common species recorded locally.  This larvae illustrated here is about to pupate after which it will drop to the ground to overwinter, note the orientation by the ‘horn’.  Generally single brooded flying from May to July or early August.


0709 PK Pop hawk moth larvae m1


The British list contains some 26 species as having occurred in the UK (some of which are vagrants or adventives), so to get seven in a garden in a single season is, I offer, pretty good!  Factor in that that Skidmore (2006) listed eight species recorded from the Humberhead Levels (including one historic record), so that makes the local garden season an excellent vintage – can anyone better that?  Let me know, the only eligibility is the requirement that the data is from a Humberhead Levels garden, or other ‘regular patch’ ….

An excellent resource for aspiring lepidopterists is Butterfly Conservation’s website of the Moths Count project.  Although the project has concluded the website still offers useful advice for anyone wishing to further their interest in lepidoptera.  The legacy of the HLF funded project was the mammoth undertaking which delivered the Provisional Atlas of the UK’s Larger Moths (2010).  Other useful publications include “the state of britain’s larger moths” (2006) and the more recent edition of “The State of Britain’s Larger Moths 2013”. 

Butterfly Conservation are encouraging membership and are offering half price membership to anyone signing up by direct debit before 31 October 2013 (if you join after reading this, then please let them know it was through this blog).  BC make available a great deal of useful material, much of which is designed to encourage newcomers to the delights of lepidoptera and despite its name it also takes a very active interest in the moths!  Before anyone contacts me to tell me that the offer is out of date, quote MC5013 as that offer is until 31.10.13 and detailed in the Moths Count Newsletter 2013 I received a while back.

Images by John Hartley & Peter Kendall.

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I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

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