It was a cool, clear night, and 8am found the Harris Garden wreathed in mist and drenched with dew. Would any moths have found their way into our light traps in these conditions?
In a word, yes: though not a spectacular range of species for the time of year. Best catches are often when the night is cloudy – particularly on close, humid nights. At first glance, the main part of last night’s catch appeared to be Large Yellow Underwings. As with many moth species the name tells you a lot about its appearance, as it is a bulky moth with striking black-bordered bright ochre hindwings.
Another common species in late summer / early autumn is the beautifully named Setaceous Hebrew Character, named for the apparent resemblance of the black markings on its wings to a letter in the Hebrew alphabet (easier to see in the Hebrew Character, a species in a different genus which flies earlier in the year).
Once all the egg boxes have been checked and the traps are empty, I usually collect up in tubes any specimens that I want to double check or keep for photographing later in the day.
Most of the other species we caught are shown below. For more wonderful moths seen on Whiteknights campus, see our moth gallery. Since we started recording we’ve found 242 species of moths on campus, but that’s not even half the number seen over a few decades by at least one local resident and the national fauna numbers over 2400 species. We’re confident that much of Whiteknights’ lepidopterous diversity awaits discovery!