Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Moth trapping.... Mosquitoes 4 - Nicola 0

At the end of May I participated in Basildon Natural History Society's records evening.  We were moth trapping at Marks Hill.  The evening started with the regular members setting up 3 moth traps connected to a generator.  We had a table and chairs set up with a magnifying lamp and several small plastic pots and lids.  The object of the night was to capture whatever flew into the traps or indeed flew around our heads!

I was off to a bad start when before the traps were even switched on I was bitten by a mosquito or other such horror.  I realised I had made a school-girl error, foolishly not considering that I was going to be in woodland at dusk, I had failed to apply a single drop of insect repellent.  Being allergic to mosquito bites this was a huge mistake.  So, with that attractive "rambler" look of trousers tucked into my socks, my scarf woven tightly about my neck and the velcro on my jacket fastened tightly around my wrists I set about the all-important task of moth capture.

Armed with a few plastic pots I investigated the first moth trap.  My only experience of moth trapping has been to leave the traps out overnight and then examine the contents in the morning.  It is fairly easy to put the moths in the pots then as they are cold and not moving around much.  This was a whole new experience for me.  Trying to catch a fluttering moth in a small plastic tub, whilst avoiding touching, or looking directly at, the bright hot mercury bulb is no mean feat!  We spent several hours doing this and once I got the hang of it I was capturing moths on the ground, on blades of grass, flying around me and from the inside of the traps.  Each pot was taken to Peter who identified them and made a note of the species.  Once we had a collection of about 10 pots we took turns to walk away from the lights into the woodland to release the moths.  My two favourite finds were Pale Oak Beauty and Green Silver-lines (pictures below)

Pale Oak Beauty [Hypomecis punctinalis]

Green Silver-lines [Pseudoips prasinana britannica]
The next moth recording evening is in a couple of weeks and I would love to go again - but this time I will be head-to-toe in repellent and may even fashion a bee-keeper-esque suit from a mozzie-net...

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