When I first started on my mothy learning curve, I never dreamt just how many moths we would get in our garden. The first year I kept a serious count (2014) we hit 127 species, which I thought was amazing. In 2015 we got 155 species and I thought we’d never beat that. This year as we reached the upper 180s, grim determination set in that we’d reach 200. Of course as soon as you set your mind to something like that, everything seems to slow down, but gradually the numbers edged closer to the magic double century. We finally reached number 199 last week with a species I’d been longing to see – the delightfully named Vestal Moth. This is an attractive migrant species, that I’d been envying on other people’s twitter feeds for a while, so I was really chuffed to get one in the garden. Shame it didn’t hang around long enough for a better photo.
Following the excitement of the Vestal, there were then a few nights trapping with nothing new to add to the list. Lots of interesting moths, but nothing to take me to the magic 200. Lunar Underwings were particularly abundant and very varied. Both the examples below are Lunar Underwings, but they look quite different.
Finally last night in flew not only number 200, but numbers 201 and 202! Number 200 was this – a Blair’s Shoulder Knot. Don’t know who the original Mr Blair was (presumably not Tony), but I was very happy to see his moth. Funnily enough it had been a Blair’s Shoulder Knot that took me to my final figure of 127 species back in 2014. A lucky species for our garden perhaps?
No. 201 was a Black Rustic – which actually looks a lot glossier and blacker than this photo suggests.
No. 202 was the autumnal looking Sallow. You can see how easily it would blend in with piles of autumn leaves – as would the Centre Barred Sallow below.
So I’m very happy to have reached 202 species of moth and we’re not even in October yet. Hopefully we’ll get a few more species before the year is out.
Why have we recorded so many more this year? Well I think it’s partly because of the Garden Moth Scheme. Having to make sure I trap at least once a week over the summer months, has clearly paid off in terms of overall species count. I did run the traps quite a lot last year, but there were definitely weeks when it was too wet or windy or I just didn’t feel like getting up at the crack of dawn to check it! Secondly I’ve made more of an effort to identify the micro moths. Previously I’d ignored a lot of them as being too small to identify or even photograph, but I realise now I was missing out on a whole range. Many of the micros are very beautiful when you get close enough to look at them properly (I feel a micro moth post coming soon!)
Of course all this will leave me with a problem for next year. Realistically moth numbers in our garden can’t keep increasing at this rate. I know there are several species that we’ve had previous years that have been no shows this year, but then some that we’ve seen this year maybe won’t appear next. Will I be disappointed if we don’t get more next year? Maybe, but then I could always start compiling a definitive list of all moths species seen in the garden to date since I started trapping. Or of course I could start obsessing about another group – anyone know anything about hoverflies?