Worcestershire Mothers Group Moth Report 1999

By Neil Gregory & Corinna Philpott

The Worcestershire Mothers Group is a sub-group of the West Midlands Butterfly Conservation Branch. We have enjoyed evenings this year in a variety of locations and habitats. They have been made easier with the valuable contribution of a generator for supplying power to the traps, provided by English Nature. Our aim is to gain a better picture of the moth situation in this region, supplementing the records of the two county moth recorders, Tony Simpson (Worcestershire) and Mike Harper (Herefordshire). Tony Simpson's collated information on the status of Macro-moths in Worcestershire was a useful guide to the local status of each moth trapped.

This year has shown a diverse and interesting set of Lepidoptera trapped over 10 evenings throughout 1999 (in total 190 Macro-moths, 138 Micro-moths and 1 Butterfly!). There has been an abundance of insect life on some evenings and on others very little; such is the way with conservation work that depends on climatic conditions. Various notable species have been seen throughout the county this year along with regular sightings of some more common species.

At Chaddesley Wood in June, the rare (for Worcestershire) Small Seraphim (Pterapherapteryx sexalata) was trapped. Feckenham Wild Moor brought the rare Southern Wainscot (Mythimna straminea) and new records for Blue-bordered Carpet (Plemyria rubiginata rubiginata), Brachmia rufescens, Coleophora deauratella, Eurrhypara hortulata, Hedya salicella and Scoparia subfusca.

The joint evening with Worcestershire Wildlife Trust in Trench Wood proved to be a good one for numbers and diversity of Lepidoptera with 92 Macros, 72 Micros and several performing Glow Worms. Angle Striped Sallow (Enargia paleacea) was noted as being the first record since 1976. Also there were new site records for Oak Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus) - attracted to various peoples' trousers! - and Round-winged Muslin (Thumatha senex), all of which were classified as "local and less common". There were two rare status moths of the night: two separate trappings of Festoon (Apoda limacodes), which hadn't been recorded since 1974 and Mere Wainscot (Photedes fluxa), last recorded in 1994. New site records of micros were: Acentria ephemerella; Acleris aspersana; Bryotropha senectella; Epinotia cinercana; Euzophera pinguis; Lozotaeniodes formosanus; Monochroa lutulentella.

Bredon Hill in July gave a wonderful view of a sunset over the Malvern Hills. Because it was an exposed site, there was a chill to the air, but deep in the wood various Lepidoptera were trapped including the Green-veined White. Haugh Wood in Herefordshire proved to be very interesting with Wood Ants in the traps and Bats preying on the insects attracted to the lights. Several rare Buff Footman (Eilema depelana) were seen, along with over 130 different moths.

Wilden Marsh had a spectacular array of mostly non-aggressive (!) midges over the traps (hence most observers watched at a safe distance). The traps attracted the rare Small Seraphim (Pterapherapteryx sexalata) and new records for Worcestershire: Small Rufous (Coenobia rufa) and Cochylis atricapitana.

There was also a new site record for Platyptilia isodactylus. Ravenshill Wood, with no previous records, turned up the rare Bordered Sallow (Pyrrhia umbra) and a spectacular display from a Red Underwing (Catocala nupta).

The last four nights all turned quite cold with depleted numbers of moths. 27 showed at Roundhill Wood, a site not previously recorded; 19 at Saint Wulstans, a developing local nature reserve; 19 at Grafton Wood, which had previously been recorded only once at a different location; and 4 on Hartlebury Common.

Many interesting moths showed throughout this year including the Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata). The Black Arches (Lymnantria monacha) and Leopard Moths (Zeuzera pyrnia) showed their simple, yet appealing markings many times.

A more detailed report can be obtained by emailing us at droitwich@btinternet.com

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