Saturday, 7 September 2013

A bit of history...

Well, it's been a very successful moth and butterfly season (so far!), and I am up to (I think) 406 species for the garden, with the addition of today's holly blue, whirled in and out by the wind.

I was looking back at my old notebook from 1986, when I was a callow youth of 17, I trapped pretty much right through the season in my parents' garden just three miles down the road from my current house. Now, obviously, comparisons are limited, partly by the differences in location, but also by the difference in traps - 12w actinic then, 125w Robinson type MV now. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that I have caught a lot more species this year, as well as being enabled to identify micros by the superb Parsons and Sterling. What is of interest, I think, is the moths which I recorded in 1986, but not this year. For those species, a gap in the records this year might represent a real decline in local abundance in the intervening 27 years.

Those species are:
  • Garden tiger
  • Double dart
  • Red chestnut
  • White pinion-spotted
  • Broom moth
  • Dotted rustic
  • Small dotted buff
  • Dotted clay
  • Gothic
  • Pale eggar
I'd be interested to know if these are species thought to have declined widely, or are more likely to be the result of a slightly different location, or a more local change in population. The 1986 trapping took place in a more mature garden with a row of splendid mature oaks. In 1986 I caught Merveille-du-jour on 6th October, so I'm crossing my fingers for that one!


  1. Some of those I've seldom or never seen in Norfolk. I never get Double Dart, Dotted Rustic or Dotted Clay. Garden Tiger is well known to have declined hugely. I used to get White pinion spotted but not for a few years I think. Red Chestnut still regular (but it was such a cold spring I wouldn't read too much into it). Pale Eggar - keep your fingers crossed, don't give up on that yet. And yes, you'll get the Merv.

  2. Garden Tiger....COULD be making a slow comeback. I have had a good year this year recording it at 2 sites in Essex and one site in Hertfordshire, the site in Herts we got 3 on one night.
    White pinion-spotted is a regular in Herts but is confined to mature woodland from my experience and is absent from lots of garden lists.
    Red Chestnut is still a regular but have not had one in my garden new garden yet.

    As for the others, never seen. Only Pale Eggar and Gothic are annual and usually only as singles.
    All the best

  3. Definite decline in Double Dart in VC55 recently, and Dotted Rustic is now a major rarity here (I took one in garden 11/09/2000 and haven't seen one anywhere since).

    Red Chestnut, Gothic, Small Dotted Buff, Broom Moth, White Pinion-spotted and Pale Eggar all fairly regular in VC55, though some fluctuation, and Dotted Clay still at sites where previously recorded. Garden Tiger decline well known.

    I guess back in 1986 Stout Dart was a good possibility in southern and central gardens - must be extinct now?