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saving butterflies, moths and our environment
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Moths of the month: May 2012

This is a monthly series illustrating several characteristic moths to look out for in our area. Text and photos by Roy Leverton.

You can also view the other months by selecting the links at the bottom of this page.

Flame Carpet (R Leverton)

Flame Carpet Xanthorhoe designata

May through to early September, often in two overlapping broods.

Damp woodland, carr and scrub.

Formerly this widespread moth produced a partial second brood in our area only during good summers, but in recent years it has become much more regularly bivoltine.

Its caterpillar feeds on crucifers such as cresses, so it is commonest in damp open woodland. However, it is scarcer in urban or coastal areas, where the related species Garden Carpet (which also feeds on crucifers) replaces it.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Clouded Silver (R Leverton)

Clouded Silver Lomographa temerata

May and June.

Open woodland and scrub.

Few moths are so pure a white as Clouded Silver. It may well be a recent arrival in our area, since older literature gives its northern limit as Argyll, and it is still quite local and infrequent here.

Its caterpillar feeds mainly on rosaceous trees and shrubs such as hawthorn, blackthorn and wild cherry. The adult rests in the foliage and is easily disturbed by day.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Iron Prominent (R Leverton)

Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius

May to August, probably in a mixture of one and two broods.

Woodland and carr.

The iron grey colour, complete with reddish streaks of rust, explains this moth's English name. Its scientific name, however, relates to its humped caterpillar (see Moths of the Month, August 2011).

In drier areas birch is the foodplant, with alder used in wetter areas.

Though widespread, this is a low-density species hardly ever found as an adult by day, and rarely numerous even in the moth trap.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Scorched Wing (R Leverton)

Scorched Wing Plagodis dolabraria

May and June.

Deciduous woodland, especially oak.

This is also an aptly named species, looking as if it had only just escaped a fire with singed and buckled wings.

It is yet another recent arrival in our area. Until a decade ago it was not known north of Perthshire. It is still local and far from numerous - species at the edge of their range need ideal habitat to compensate for barely suitable climate.

As with most species in this subfamily, males come readily to light traps; the female (illustrated) is rarely found.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Glaucous Shears (R Leverton)

Glaucous Shears Papestra biren

May into June.

Heathland and moorland.

This is mainly an upland and inland species found on almost all our moors, where the caterpillar feeds on a wide variety of low plants and shrubs. Clearly it is habitat rather than foodplant that determines its distribution.

The adult has a rather short flight period, peaking in the second half of May. At this time the adults can sometimes be found resting on fence posts, where their camouflage is slightly less effective than when they rest on rocks.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

View other months

January - February




November - December

2008: May | June | July | August | September

2009: May | June | July | August | September

2010: May | June | July | August | September

2011: May | June | July | August | September

2012: May | June | July | August | September

2013: May | June | July | August | September

2014: May | June | July | August | September

2015: May | June | July | August | September

2016: May | June | July | August | September

2017: May | June | July | August

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