Marvellous Moths

As I stroll down the Saltcot Loaning one morning, heading down to check on the sheep, something fluttering catches my eye. It lands gracefully on a leaf so I can get a closer look at it. It’s a moth – a common carpet to be exact. I take a (fairly decent) picture which I study closely back at the computer. Looking at its band of brown across the wings and the beautiful patterning make me wonder about the incredible variation of moths and how they are adapted to fit their environment and threats they face.

common carpet moth (2).JPG

common carpet moth

Because of this fascination, I’ve recently started a project on moths and have been learning about the many different species and their habitats. I am looking at my surroundings differently, eyes peeled constantly for day flying species. My project is focused on comparing the moths found at different grasslands across the northern parts of the reserve. It’s a small sample of the areas to get an idea of what species are around and to see if they differ between habitat types. I’m setting moth traps twice weekly, meaning I’ve got quite a few early starts to look forward to over the coming months! There’s something quite peaceful about getting up in the early hours, finding the traps in the fields and slowly uncovering the previous nights trappings. A sense of excitement and eagerness makes getting up at 6am quite easy. Moths get affected by weather conditions so on windy or very bright nights they are less likely to be flying. This means some trapping nights will be better than others and therefore we will find fewer in the traps when we revisit them. But for me, any morning involving moths at all is a good morning.

Words and pictures by Meg Grisewood-Foley

Feature image of emperor moth

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