Sunday, 24 May 2015

Norfolk moths: Rockland St. Peter garden, 23 May 2015

Lychnis Hadena bicruris
It has been a cold spring, particularly compared to the glorious balmy season last year, so I have not felt too bad about not having time to dust off the Skinner trap. I confess that feeling the temperature plunge towards the end of the afternoon was the deciding factor in putting out the trap: I knew that it would not take long to process the small catch. After a warm (18°C) and partly sunny day, skies remained largely clear for most of the night, with temperatures of 12.0°C when I turned on the MV light at 21h30 and 6.5°C when I turned it off at 04h00. A light S air brought with it more than a hint of damp. The waxing crescent moon quickly set, with the new moon having been on 18 May. A Robin and a Blackbird arrived at the trap at 04h10, but there was nothing for them outside the trap.

As suspected, the catch was meagre, but not without interest. A newly-emerged Chocolate-tip was very smart indeed. Lychnis is new for the site and the appearance of three of them coincides with the flowering of Ragged-Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi on the adjacent Chapel Green. Moths of the genus Hadena are specialised to feed on plants of the campion family (Caryophyllaceae), of which Ragged-Robin is a member, but at no small cost to the plant, since the larva can devour much of the seed production. While Red Silene dioica and White Campion S. latifolia seed pods are the favoured food of Lychnis caterpillars, and the adult moths target the nectar of their host-plants, I like to imagine the adults visiting the night-blooming Ragged-Robin that is flowering in profusion next door. At least this would vindicate the name.

Light Brocade is a local moth that I caught at about this time last year.

Macro-moths (11 moths of 7 spp.):-

Clostera curtula Chocolate-tip 1
Diaphora mendica Muslin Moth 3
Agrotis exclamationis Heart and Dart 1
Lacanobia w-latinum Light Brocade 1
Hadena bicruris Lychnis 3
Charanyca trigrammica Treble Lines 1
Abrostola tripartita Spectacle 1