Main photo: Burnished Brass. All photos taken by Gordon Redford
At the beginning of June 2020, the number of species recorded in June at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve (LLNR) stood at 293 accumulated over the 9 years that records have been consistently collected there. By the end of June 2020, the number of species recorded in that month now stands at 310, an increase of 17 species. Of those 17 newly recorded June species, 3 were new records for the site and the remainder were all species that had made early appearances as they have been recorded in July up till now. This appearance of some moths earlier than previously recorded continues the trend noted in the report for the month of May.
The month began with the appearance of the Beautiful China-mark some 10 days earlier than previous earliest date. The moth is very well named as the photograph below shows. There are 4 species of china-mark moth which remarkably have aquatic or subaquatic caterpillars. The china-marks are named from the resemblance of their wing patterns to makers’ marks pressed into Chinese porcelain.
The first week of June, the 4th to be precise, saw the appearance in the trap of the Burnished Brass. 21 were recorded during the month which is bettered only once in the 10 years of records. The caterpillars feed most often on Common Nettle of which there is plenty at LLNR. The adults, when fresh, are a delight to move when the sun is shining as the “brass” really comes into play.
One of the 3 moths recorded as new to the site in June was the Burnet Companion. It is a day-flying moth and has probably been there all the time that this recording programme has been in place and before that too. Why it is so named is a bit of a mystery: although they occur in the same habitat as other Burnet moths they are seldom seen together, as the Burnet Companion flight season is over by the time the Six-spot Burnet appears.
The number of moths to visit the trap in June was 1,851 with 149 species recorded. This compares with 2,824 moths and 170 species last year. A Hornet was found on an egg box in the trap in mid-June so it may be that the Hornets are affecting numbers. The Heart and Dart was the most numerous of the moths in June numbering 239. Often the most abundant moths are also the most variable and the Heart and Dart is no exception. However, all show the pair of pegs or darts on the top of the wing and the rough heart shape mark about half way down.
At the other end of the scale, it was good to report records for Iron Prominent and Leopard Moth, just one for each. Neither appear in large numbers nor every year. There are 9 Prominents in the UK and all have a tuft of scales which sticks up like a little pyramid. The Iron Prominent is so named because the dark grey wings are edged with flecks of red-brown or rusty iron. Leopard Moths spend at least 3 years as caterpillars as they feed inside the trunks, stems and branches of trees where large volumes of wood have to be eaten to provide enough food for the caterpillar to develop.
It is very good to report that 9 Scarlet Tigers were recorded during the month of June 2020. I can recall the great excitement caused about 10 years ago when a couple were found at Shenley Brook End so for 9 to be counted is something special.
On the last day of the month it was lovely to see a Maple Prominent on an egg box in the trap. Only the third time to be recorded there in the 10 year period and a very fine moth too.
Gordon Redford, June 2020