There's nothing quite like a balmy summer night. For the moth enthusiasts amongst us, those warm summer nights can be the best time for moth trapping!
Moth traps are effectively boxes with a bright light on top. For reasons not fully understood, many moths are attracted to bright lights. When moths are drawn to the ultra bright light of our moth trap, they fly into a funnel beneath the light that allows moths to enter the box. Inside the box is a stack of egg boxes for the moths to settle on, and they stay there overnight because they cannot easily exit the trap. At first light the next day, we identify them and set them free.
At Parc Slip this summer we have caught some spectacular moth species that haven't been recorded on the reserve for many years.
The Lime hawk moth (Mimas tiliae) is a large green and pink moth that has a distinctive scalloped edge on the wings. It is reasonably common in the South of the UK, but is spreading Northwards in distribution. As the name suggests, the larvae feed on lime trees, although they will also eat other deciduous trees such a birch, alder and elm. They are consequently found in woodland and suburban habitats, where lime tree avenues can still be found.
Our largest resident hawk-moth is the Privet hawk moth (Sphinx ligustri), which we caught at Parc Slip in June. It is distributed in the southern half of Britain and is mainly found along the coast in Wales. The Privet hawk moth is very distinctive because of it's beautiful pink and black stripes on the body. The adult moth feeds on nectar from highly-scented flowers and the caterpillar eats privet, lilac and ash, and is also brightly coloured, with a curved 'horn' at the rear.
We set our moth trap at Parc Slip every week in an effort to discover new species and monitor the ones that regularly turn up on the reserve. Who knows what the rest of the summer may bring?