Easterly winds bring over a dazzling visitor

The Silver Y moth
The Silver Y moth

My ultra violet moth trap has again been returned to the attic for its annual hibernation, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

All summer and into autumn it has recorded moths for my clients.

There are several reasons why a client might require data on moth, butterfly or other insect species on their estate.

Mainly the idea is to monitor whether their land management practices are proving beneficial to wildlife or otherwise.

Typically a client should end up with a list in excess of a hundred moth species.

Often the results are well in excess of that number.

In one overnight catch in high summer I would expect between 100 and 200 moths made up of 10 to 20 different species.

Caught moths are listed and recorded before being released unharmed.

By autumn, of course, things are slowing down and wind and rain can sometimes prevent trapping altogether.

This year my last outing for the trap was in mid-October and only two moths were caught. Both were Silver Y moths, which are thought to be the UK’s most common immigrant moth.

As you can see the moth is named for the prominent Y mark on each wing. It may be no coincidence that the pair were caught during a period of easterly winds from the continent.

Silver Y are long distance migrants with an ability to utilise fast, high altitude winds to take them where they want to go.

In fact, moths can often migrate faster than birds do as they allow winds to carry them, whereas birds often have to struggle against the wind to maintain their chosen compass heading.

Amazingly, Silver Y moths are also known to head south for winter, which I suspect these two were doing when they were blown over from the continental coast.