Moth magic and more – National Insect Week

Flanders Moss NNR

Back out working on the reserves and we had some essential fence repairs to sort out at Flanders Moss. By the end of the day the fence was sheep proof but that wasn’t all that was achieved. Flanders is a designated site for a number of reasons and one of those is because of its assemblage of rare moth species. We therefore monitor the moths on the moss to keep track of some of the rarities. So we took to opportunity to set up a moth trap the night before we did the fencing so that when we went out in the morning we could first of all check to see what has been caught.

A moth trap attracts in moths with a bright light during the night and holds them until the morning when they can be identified and then released back on to the bog. As it was National Insect Week it seemed to perfect time to be having a closer look at some of the inhabitants of the moss. The haul was small but definitely quality rather than quantity with some of u=our target species turning up. Find out below what was caught.

A True Lovers Knot – a common moth but when freshly emerged they are rather striking.

A Miller. A subtlety striking moth whose caterpillars most probably feeds on the birch. We don’t catch many so it is always a pleasure to meet again.

A Plain Wave. This moth has a patchy distribution and is seen much less that its close and very similar relative the Riband Wave.

This moth is the Dark Arches, named because of the 2 arched black lines on the side of its thorax, just behind its head. It is one of the commonest moths found on Flanders and this one was the first of the season. Later in the summer we may catch 50 + in the moth trap.

A Dark Tussock. Another scarce moth regularly found on Flanders.

A Light Knotgrass. A moth of heathy and boggy places so Flanders is just ideal for them. Thank goodness they come to a light trap as otherwise they would be very difficult to find.

A Rolls Royce of a moth, the Silvery Arches is just beautiful in a very cryptic sort of way. They have only been recorded a few times on Flanders so apparently my collegues informed me that I squawked in an ungentlemanly sort of way when I found it in the trap. I don’t care, they are just wonderful.

Not the most exciting moth to look at but the Round Winged Muslin was the rarest moth caught. There are very few places north of a line drawn between Glasgow and Edinburgh where this moth is found but Flanders is one.

But as ever there, was much more in the way of insects than moths to look at. This watchful fly caught my eye – maybe a Snipe Fly? I don’t know much about flies but there maybe someone out there who can correct me.

Having a bit of a rest on some dead wood was a leafcutter bee – one of the Megachile species. They cut out circles of leaf and then use them to create cells on holes in wood in which they lay their eggs. There is a lot of cool stuff to find out about insects.

A cracking big Caddis Fly turned up in the moth trap. Different from a moth having wings with no scales, and come from larva that live in water and stick twigs or stones together to make their homes. How cool is that?

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