2020 saw us properly launch Rowden Wildlife Project and one of the first species that we begun surveying was moths. Using MV traps in various locations across our farm we have managed to make a great start in recording what moth species our farm is home to. In our first month of surveying we came across 51 species on our land which was a wonderfully exciting start. Whilst the surveys were weather dependant we still managed to monitor moth numbers from June to October collecting some valuable data to use as a baseline for us to build upon. The local experts who have helped us with our surveys, Graham and Barbara, have not only been great company but have been a fountain of knowledge and their hard work has been invaluable.
Some Of Our Favourite Finds
- One of our favourite finds in the first month of our surveying had to be the Eyed Hawkmoth. With a wingspan of 8 centimetres this moth was an exciting example of the variety of moths we have on our land and what sizeable proportions and striking colours we would find them in.
- Featuring in our project’s logo has given us a soft spot for the Common Blue Butterfly. We have spotted many on our farm over the summer and it is always a joy to see it’s beautiful and striking colours.
The Common Blue generally flies throughout the Summer until October time. There are typically two generations of Common Blues in a year, but if the weather is warm, there can be up to three broods.
- With it’s prominent ‘snout’ and fluffy body there is no doubt the Drinker moth has some rather adorable features. Whilst prominent in the South this moth is hard to come by in the North and being nocturnal, yet attracted to bright lights, it is often only found when light traps are used.
- In October we enjoyed a last visit of 2020 from our wonderful moth experts, Graham and Barbara. Taking advantage of the recent dry weather, we set out some overnight traps and were lucky enough to find an array of Autumn moth species in these traps the next morning. Most excitingly we found a beautiful Merveille du Jour, a species that there was no record of in our area for the year before, a brilliant final find for the year and one leaving us eager to start our recordings again in 2021.
- The Poplar Hawk moth has been one of our biggest finds, with a wing span up to an impressive 9cm. These moths do not feed during their short lives as adults. Instead they rely on fat reserves put down as caterpillars.
- It would have been easy to miss the Buff Tip moth as it disguises itself perfectly as a twig from a silver birch tree. Buff Tip’s feed gregariously and can cause a significant amount of defoliation on their deciduous tree hosts.
- Whilst far from uncommon the Peacock butterfly will always remain one of our favourite things to spot on our land. It’s striking colours and markings plus it’s large size make it easy to notice and we were lucky enough that this one we came across rested long enough for us to capture a photo. A Peacock butterfly’s preferred habitat is in the shelter of woodland clearings and being lucky enough to have a few spaces that fit this description on our land we will be keeping an eye out for more of these colourful delights.
- In recent years the Five-spot Burnet has only been found in the South-West and parts of Wales, along with a few random pockets in the home counties, so we consider ourselves lucky to have this eye-catching moth call Rowden Wildlife Project home. Not only are the Five-spot Burnet’s eye-catching colours hard to miss but it is also one of a few moths that ‘buzz’ when in flight meaning you can also hear when one is near. These vibrant moths over-winter as a caterpillar; some even overwinter twice before they have eaten enough to pupate on a grass stem in early summer. A favourite food plant of the Five-spot Burnet is the Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil, a wealth of which can always be found in our herbal leys.
- The characteristic purple and gold colourings of the Mint moth set it apart from the greys and browns many assume moths are confined to. The Corn Mint plant has flourished in the corner of one of our pastures and being a popular food plant for this moth we have been lucky to witness many happy Mint moth’s enjoying this area of our farm. The Mint moth flies by both day and night although it is certainly at it’s most remarkable in the sunlight when it’s golden markings look most impressive.