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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Know your trees.....

As a boy I was always interested in putting names to things and was able to identify most of the common trees in leaf or by bark and shape alone. A couple of winters ago, I was puzzled over a clump of about 15 trees in the mature birch woodland at Pilmoor, and came to the conclusion they were Aspen Populus tremula, which was confirmed when they came into leaf last summer.

Knowing that some species had Aspen as a foodplant, I set the moth-trap under the trees on a number of occasions. I made a mental note that a moth I had never caught, Lead-coloured Drab, was also an Aspen feeder.

So, with a reasonable evening forecast and the temperature holding up, I went to Pilmoor and set up the 160 watt MBV over a sheet, which soon started to draw Orthosias in. While inspecting the sheet, I noted a slightly smaller drab, similar to a pale Clouded Drab, but this had the more rounded termen, and a distinct neat line of dots inside the sub-terminal line. It immediately stood out as being interesting, and despite prodding, I could not get to see the antennae which would have clinched it.

On trying to photograph the moth in early daylight at home this morning, the moth appeared to have died, so at least it made it easy to photograph, but I could still not see the antennae. While writing an email with my sighting to Charlie, the County Recorder, I thought if it is dead, I should be able to pry the antennae out into the open....the moth took umbridge and suddenly became rather lively. However, the antennae came into view, and sure enough they were feathered! A quick couple of shots in the poor light, and enough to clinch the i.d. with Charlie.

Just goes to show, by knowing the food-plant, getting the time of the year right, you might just get what you are targeting.
(image updated 26 March).
Lead-coloured Drab

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